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Brendan Dassey, one of the two convicted killers at the heart of the Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” is filing for clemency.
The 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach landed both Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery behind bars for life. The first season of "Making a Murderer," released in 2015, suggested that police may have planted evidence on Avery’s property, and that investigators took advantage of Dassey’s limited intellect in order to coax him into confessing.
Dassey was only 16 when he confessed in 2006 to helping Avery rape and kill photographer Teresa Halbach one year prior. His lawyers have said that his confession, which was taped and aired in portions of the series, shouldn’t have been used to convict him and claim it was coerced.
The petition for Dassey’s clemency has been shared on the website for the "Wrongful Conviction" podcast. It refers to Dassey as a “sixteen-year-old Mishicot High School special education student with no criminal history, an IQ of 74, and speech-language functioning in the bottom percentile” when Halbach was killed. It claims his conviction “wrongly took a confused child’s freedom” and ends on an excerpt from William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice" about mercy.
On Wednesday, the “Wrongful Conviction” podcast aired a new interview with Dassey in which he claims law enforcement “got me to say whatever they wanted.”
His attorney Laura Nirider told "CBS This Morning" that she hopes Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin, who once served on the Wisconsin Board of Education, will be compassionate toward her client, who is now 29. Evers is the new Democrat governor of the state.
"When Brendan Dassey was in special education, he was in 10th grade, he required an aide to sit next to him in the classroom to help him understand the teachers' spoken sentences,” Nirider told CBS. "Then shift him into the interrogation room where he was barraged with 1,500 questions over 3.5 hours […] You don't have to be a lawyer to understand how an interrogation like that would overwhelm someone like Brendan Dassey."
Dassey also wrote a handwritten letter to Evers himself about the request, which started with, "Hi there. How are you doing today?” before Dassey congratulated him on becoming governor.
In the letter, Dassey lists facts for the governor to get to know him better, including telling him that his favorite Pokémon is Mew and his favorite drink is Orange Crush.
"I am writing to ask for a pardon because I am innocent and want to go home,” he wrote. “If I would get to go home, I would like to get a job involving video games.”
He added that if he is granted clemency, he would like to go home to take care of his mom and also have children of his own.
He signed it, "Love the complete and innocent, Brendan Dassey"
Dassey is not eligible for parole for another three decades. It seemed like he had a chance to get out of prison a few years back when a federal judge overturned his conviction in 2016, the same year a Wisconsin attorney general filed a motion to release him from prison. Those decisions flipped back and forth a few times before it was decided that he would not be released.
Dassey's lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court in 2018, but they didn’t take the case.
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