The fate of Brendan Dassey is in the balance. Yesterday, a federal appeals court heard arguments over whether detectives coerced the 27-year-old into confessing his involvement in a brutal murder.
In 2007, Dassey was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the death of photographer Teresa Halbach, which occurred two years prior. The case served as the basis for the 2015 hit Netflix series "Making a Murderer" and opened up questions surrounding police interrogation techniques and ethical conduct, as well as the guilt of Dassey and Avery.
Here are five things you need to know about the case and Dassey's current legal situation:
1. Brendan's Background
Dassey was 16 when he told detectives that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill the victim in the family's junkyard in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Dassey and Avery gave a video confession, but many have deemed it unfair. Avery was sentenced to life in prison in a separate trial. He's now pursuing his own appeal in state court.
2. His conviction was overturned.
Following publicity garnered from the series, a federal magistrate judge overturned Dassey's conviction last year (as the main image from Netflix celebrated at the time), citing that the detectives on the case took advantage of his youth and cognitive disabilities in obtaining their confession. This state is now appealing that ruling.
3. It's a long process.
This will not be a short or speedy process. Oral arguments in Dassey's case are in front of all 12 judges of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago. His lawyers, as well as state attorneys, are to speak for a half an hour and answer the judges' questions. A ruling may take weeks or months.
4. Dassey is still behind bars.
As these legal proceedings occur, Dassey remains incarcerated.
5. Police Interrogation
A key issue in this case is the manner in which police obtain confessions. Were authorities within their legal limits in obtaining the confession or was it done in an illegal manner? Both Dassey and Avery believe that law enforcement tricked them in the case as revenge because Avery filed a lawsuit against Manitowoc County (over a wrongful imprisonment for a sexual assault he didn't commit).
[Photo: Netflix, Getty, Manitowoc County Jail]
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