A federal appellate court has blocked the release of Brendan Dassey, one of the main subjects of the hit Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer,” keeping him imprisoned while prosecutors appeal a ruling overturning his conviction for rape and sexual assault.
A three-judge panel on Thursday issued a brief order halting the release of Dassey, 27, whose 2007 conviction in the rape, murder and mutilation of a woman in Wisconsin was overturned by a federal judge in August.
The ruling is a victory for Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (R), who had sought to keep Dassey behind bars while his office appeals the overturned conviction. Schimel had challenged a lower court ruling on Monday that ordered Dassey freed by Friday.
“We are disappointed more than words can say,” Dassey’s lawyers from Northwestern University’s Center For Wrongful Convictions of Youth said in a statement Thursday. “The fight goes on.”
Dassey was convicted of first-degree murder and second-degree sexual assault in 2007 for joining his uncle in the rape, murder and mutilation of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Dassey’s conviction was called into question by the 10-part Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” released in December, that suggested police violated his rights when they got him to confess under interrogation. A U.S. magistrate judge tossed his conviction in August and ruled that his confession was involuntary under the Fifth Amendment.
Dassey, who was 16 when he was arrested, had no lawyer or parent with him when he admitted his role in the crime. Court records show his IQ borderlines the threshold for intellectual disability. Further, police used an interrogation style called the Reid technique that’s controversial for leading to false confessions from innocent suspects.
Saul Kassin, a psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told The Huffington Post in an earlier interview that teens are especially susceptible to the Reid technique.