"Making A Murderer": State petitions full appeals court to hear Dassey case

Published: Jul. 5, 2017 at 12:47 PM CDT
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The State of Wisconsin has submitted a petition asking the full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear arguments in the Brendan Dassey case.

The petition for "en banc" was filed Wednesday. The Wisconsin Department of Justice provided Action 2 News a copy of the state's petition, which takes issue with a 2-1 decision reached by a panel of appeals court judges affirming a lower court's ruling that overturned Dassey's conviction for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.

The state says the full appeals court should rehear the arguments based on "two reasons":

The state says, "The panel majority has rewritten the rules for juvenile interrogations, in multiple 'significant' ways." The state claims the panel's majority opinion conflicts with Supreme Court and other appeals court findings.

The state says "the panel majority also 'departed from a string of habeas decisions involving confessions by juveniles who were denied relief despite being subjected to far great pressures than Dassey was."

In June, two of three judges on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel agreed with a federal magistrate's decision to overturn Dassey's conviction for 1st Degree Intentional Homicide.

The majority opinion concurred that Manitowoc County investigators used coercive tactics to obtain a confession from Dassey that he helped his uncle Steven Avery rape and kill Halbach on Halloween 2005, thus violating his constitutional rights.

While the state appeals court ruled Dassey's confession was voluntary, the federal appeals court's opinion states the investigators used false promises of leniency and cued Dassey to "tell them what they wanted to hear." At issue, Dassey's limited IQ and inability to understand an idiom such as "the truth will set you free."

The state's petition for "en banc" says the federal appeals court panel "attacked" the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in its ruling. "The majority's characterization of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals' opinion is patently unfair," reads the petition.

The Avery and Dassey cases gained international attention when they were featured on Netflix docu-series "Making A Murderer."

The state's "en banc" petition means it is asking the full appeals court to look at the case, not just a three-judge panel.

Dassey's attorneys asked the appeals court to allow Dassey to be released from a Wisconsin prison during the state's appeal to the full court, but that motion was denied.

Dassey and Avery are serving life sentences for Halbach's killing.

Avery's attorney filed a nearly-1300 page motion laying out her argument for why her client deserves a new trial. Kathleen Zellner

Action 2 News spoke exclusively with Zellner shortly after the appeals court panel agreed Dassey's conviction was improperly obtained by investigators.

"It turned out exactly as I thought it would. Because it's obvious the confession was involuntary, and because of the cases that were cited and the analysis that was done of the facts. I don't think the Supreme Court will even take up the case," Zellner said.