(WBAY) - Attorneys for Brendan Dassey say they are working to get their client released from prison following a bombshell court ruling affirming that Dassey's confession to the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach was coerced by Manitowoc County investigators.
On Thursday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling overturning Dassey's 1st Degree Intentional Homicide conviction in the case that was featured in the Netflix docu-series "Making A Murderer."
Action 2 News has obtained the ruling from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirming Judge William Duffin's ruling in a 2-1 vote. The majority of the three-judge panel agreed with Duffin that Dassey's confession was involuntary.
The decision could set in motion the release of Brendan Dassey from prison after 10 years behind bars. Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of freelance photographer Halbach on Halloween of 2005.
The majority opinion states, "Dassey's interview could be viewed in a psychology class as a perfect example of operant conditioning."
"In sum, the investigators promised Dassey freedom and alliance if he told the truth and all signs suggest that Dassey took that promise literally. The pattern of questions demonstrates that the message the investigators conveyed is that the 'truth' was what they wanted to hear," reads the decision.
"Dassey, however, had trouble maintaining a consistent story except when he was being led step-by-step through the facts, thus confirming that his confession emerged not from his own free will, but from the will of investigators."
In the dissent, Judge David F. Hamilton said, "We also should not lose sight of the most damning physical evidence: the bones of Teresa Halbach, broken and charred, buried in the ashes of Avery's burn pit. The corpus delicti does not point inexorably to Dassey. But it is grim corroboration for much of the story he told the investigators."
The State of Wisconsin has 90 days from the court's order to retry Brendan Dassey. They can also seek review from the 7th Circuit of the United States or the United States Supreme Court.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice tells Action 2 News, "We are evaluating the 2-1 decision from the court. We anticipate seeking review by the entire 7th Circuit or the United States Supreme Court and hope that today’s erroneous decision will be reversed. We continue to send our condolences to the Halbach family as they have to suffer through another attempt by Mr. Dassey to re-litigate his guilty verdict and sentence."
Dassey is represented by attorneys Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth.
They released a statement Thursday saying they find themselves closer to achieving "justice" for Dassey.
"We are overjoyed for Brendan and his family, and we look forward to working to secure his release from prison as soon as possible. As of today’s date, Brendan Dassey has lost 4,132 days of his life to prison."
Action 2 News spoke with Bob Dvorak, an attorney who's been part of Dassey's post-conviction team.
"My assumption is that they would have to release him, based on the judge's order unless they get another stay from the Supreme Court," Dvorak says.
He continued, "I just want to express my hope that this is the end of the road for Brendan, that this you know, ten-plus year nightmare can finally be over for him. That's the hope I'm holding out."
Wis. Gov. Scott Walker spoke with us after the decision came down.
"If he is ultimately innocent or there are complications that should be handled through the courts, and that is the process they've taken right now, and we will have to see if the Department of Justice is ultimately going to pursue it any further. But this is a better route to take than determining whether or not there should be a pardon or not," Gov. Walker said.
Dan Abrams is an ABC News legal analyst. He doubted the U.S. Supreme Court would hear the case. Abrams believes the state's best option is to drop the case.
"The Wisconsin authorities now have to make a decision. Where do they go? There's one of three things they can do. Number one they can go to the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Remember these are only three judges that decided this. You've got the opportunity to say we want the whole court to review it. The other thing they could do is appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. I don't think the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear this. And the other thing they could, which is what I think that they should do, is drop this. The bottom line is the only piece of evidence is the confession. The confession is as best incredibly questionable," Abrams said.
In August, Judge Duffin ruled that Dassey’s confession was improperly obtained by Manitowoc County investigators due to his age (he was 16 at the time); intellectual deficits and lack of adult present for his questioning. The ruling states that Dassey’s confession to helping his uncle rape and kill Halbach was involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The attorney for Dassey's uncle Steven Avery tweeted, "Brendan Won!!!!! Finally some justice!!"
Zellner announced on Friday morning that she was traveling to visit Avery in prison and "tell him the good news" about Dassey.
Kathleen Zellner in June filed a 1,300-page motion laying out her argument for why her client deserves a new trial. And now it will be up to a Sheboygan County Judge, who's been assigned to the case because the trial judge has retired, to decided whether the motion has any merit.
Avery trial attorney Jerry Buting tweeted, "Hurrah! 7th Circuit AFFIRMS decision that Brendan's confess was involuntary."
Dan Abrams says the decision in the Dassey case doesn't necessarily mean good news for Steven Avery.
"The supporters of Steven Avery want to lump them together and say 'ah ha! see! See what happened with Dassey? This will be good news for Avery,'" Abrams said.
"It has nothing to do with Avery. Avery is, and I have said this publicly before, I believe the evidence against Avery is incredibly overwhelming. And so, it is a totally separate situation between Avery and Dassey. Dassey ought to be released, Avery completely different story."
Circuit Judges Ilana Diamond Rovner and Ann Claire Williams were the majority. Circuit Judge David F. Hamilton provided the minority opinion.
We reached out to Steven Avery's family and they declined to provide comment.