Update & Show Notes
by Michael Griesbach
One year after Making a Murderer’s debut, with renewed vigor thanks in large part to the world-wide attention lavished upon their clients by the series, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey’s lawyers continue to fight for their release. As the cases slowly grind their way on separate tracks through courts of law, their guilt or innocence continues to be vigorously debated in the court of public opinion, with no small amount of incivility in some quarters greeting every morsel of news.
Hopes for Dassey’s release were dashed just last week when a federal appeals court in Chicago blocked a lower court’s order granting his release on bond pending appeal. So confident was Dassey’s mother in his imminent homecoming that she scurried to raise funds for clothes that would fit the considerably larger frame of her seventeen year old son transformed into a twenty-six year old man while spending a decade in prison.
Although it was the back story of Avery’s previous wrongful conviction and his complicated personality that drew millions of Netflix viewers to Making a Murderer, Dassey’s confession and the interrogation methods used to elicit it have more deeply touched a public nerve, at least for now. His case is also moving faster in court. A federal magistrate in Milwaukee ruled three months ago that his confession was involuntary, that the police went over the line in their interrogation given his age and intellectual limitations, and that his statements had to be suppressed. There is some additional evidence that he participated in criminal activity in connection with Teresa Halbach’s murder, but without his confession, a new conviction for rape and murder is an unlikely bet. The state has appealed the magistrate’s decision, and the case is now before a three judge panel at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals – the same Court that recently blocked his release on bond.