Sunday 16 June 2019

US Supreme Court declines to hear Making A Murderer case

This leaves a previous ruling against Brendan Dassey in place.

Brendan Dassey was convicted of rape and murder (AP)
Brendan Dassey was convicted of rape and murder (AP) Newsdesk Newsdesk

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a Wisconsin man's challenge to his conviction in a 2005 murder in which he contends police coerced him into a confession in a case featured in a Netflix documentary series called "Making a Murderer."

The justices turned away Brendan Dassey's appeal of a lower court ruling upholding his conviction for murder, sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse in connection with the 2005 death of a freelance photographer named Teresa Halbach.

Dassey, 16 years old at the time of the murder and now 28, told police officers who interrogated him four times in 48 hours that he had helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill Halbach. Dassey's lawyers have said he has "significant intellectual and social limitations" and was coerced into confessing in violation of his constitutional rights.

The 10-part Netflix documentary called into question the conduct of law enforcement officials in Manitowoc County, drawing attention to the case and the broader issue of the rights of criminal defendants.

The victim's charred remains were found in an incineration pit at Avery's home and scrap yard about 80 miles (130 km) north of Milwaukee. Dassey and his uncle were convicted of the murder in separate trials. Both were given sentences of life in prison.

A federal magistrate judge in 2016 found that the confession had been coerced. A three-judge panel of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals initially upheld the judge's ruling, but in a rehearing requested by state prosecutors the 7th Circuit ruled against Dassey.

Dassey's lawyers have said that during interrogation he frequently gave incorrect answers, suggesting he was not involved in the murder. They cited exchanges in which Dassey gave correct answers only when fed the answers by the police officers.

The 7th Circuit concluded that Dassey had spoken to police voluntarily with his mother's permission, and provided investigators with "damning details" about the killing in response to open-ended questions.


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