Brendan Dassey of Making a Murderer has his appeal denied by the Supreme Court

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On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Brendan Dassey, now 28, whose story was detailed in the 2015 Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer. Dassey is currently serving a life sentence for his role in the 2005 rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, were both found guilty of the crime.

Dassey’s attorneys have held strong to the belief that their client’s confession was coerced by police. With this most recent denial, the Supreme Court will not review the decision made by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals back in December. In that case, the court found, by a vote of 4-3, that Dassey’s confession was voluntary. The Supreme Court did not release a reason for the denial.

After the decision was announced, Brendan’s attorney, Laura Nirider, issued a statement insisting that her client “confessed to a crime he did not commit” and vowed to “continue to fight for Brendan and the many other children who have been wrongfully convicted due to the use of coercive interrogation tactics.” She went on to add,

“Unfortunately, Brendan isn’t alone. Over the past 20 years, extensive empirical and psychological research has shown that children under 18 are between three and four times more likely to falsely confess than adults — and yet the criminal justice system fails many of them. It’s up to the courts to put an end to this.”

[From CNN]

I’m still not sure how to feel about this case. I’m sure Steven Avery is guilty, but I still think (judging only from what I saw in Making a Murderer) that proper protocol was not used in interrogating Dassey. All of these developments are sure to make the still-in-the-works sequel incredibly intriguing.

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39 Responses to “Brendan Dassey of Making a Murderer has his appeal denied by the Supreme Court”

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  1. Onerous says:

    This poor kid. This is a blatant travesty of the justice system!

    Are any of you listening to In the Dark S2? The corruption of some in law enforcement and the judiciary knows no end. Why Curtis Flowers can be tried 6 times for the same crime but Brendan Dassey can’t win an appeal? Sick.

  2. Laur says:

    Regardless of the potentially biased way this was covered in the documentary, you cant argue with the video evidence of the officers dragging that confession out of him and how awful it is. I don’t understand how that confession was ever allowed to stand, it truly boggles my mind. I still can’t make my mind up about Avery but Dassey was a child who was coerced into a false confession.

    • H says:

      This. As a former police officer and someone who specifically worked with juveniles that interrogation made my stomach clench. I do believe Steven Avery is guilty, that documentary was so biased in his favor and if you actually research the case there’s so much physical evidence that supports Avery’s guilt.

      However as to Dassey’s case, once convicted it’s extremely difficult without forensic evidence to get an appeal. So I’m not really sure what options he has left.

      • Cleo2 says:

        @H

        I’m floored that anyone, let alone LE, who knows even the bare minimum about the Avery case, can think there is “so much physical evidence.” The opposite is true.

        Are you aware the story was that the woman was beaten, raped, stabbed in his trailer? A trailer that had not one scintilla of Theresa’s DNA in it?!

        Are you aware LE scoured the garage they claim she was in and that cleanup occurred in or possibly the murder itself and not one spec of blood or Theresa speck of DNA was in there either?

        I assume you must then be referencing the charred bones found on his family salvage yard property in the ‘burn pit,’ which sufficient evidence exists that these may have been transferred there from somewhere else.

  3. Peggy says:

    Good. What was presented in Making A Murderer was extremely biased and often out of context.

    Dassey knew exactly where in the head the victim had been shot and with what gun. He knew exactly where in the garage she was shot, and he described a pool of blood exactly where police found evidence of it with luminol. Those details weren’t public nor were they given to him or hinted at by police. He was there, he was part of it, and he helped Avery clean it up. He admitted to bleaching the murder scene, and bleach was found all over the clothes he’d been wearing. He was seen at the fire where the victims body was burned, and even his mother confirmed that he was there. There’s also the fact he helped Avery set up a police scanner the night before the murder.

    He wasn’t ever coerced, he was simply asked questions. That’s what a police interview is. Dassey knew enough to lie and obfuscate right up until the end. The police gradually broke his story down and he started slowly confessing over the course of a few interviews.

    The interview with Dassey that’s shown in the doc wasn’t his first, it was his seventh. Each time he’d confessed more and more of what had happened, and each time he got to go home. That’s why he thought he’d get to go home after his last interview, not because he thought it was all ok, but because what he said was only very slightly worse than what he’d said in his last interview and he didn’t realise the police were now finished with their interviews.

    He’s also not nearly as impaired as the doc makes out. His IQ is in the low-average range and quite a bit higher than Avery’s. He’s certainly not smart, but he was perfectly capable of understanding that what he participated in was an extremely serious crime and the ramifications of being caught.

    • bma says:

      where is this information from?

      • Katherine says:

        Agreed, Peggy!

        Please google the interrogations transcripts. Please don’t always believe everything you see at face value. I believed the documentary first. But I then did some research after talking to colleagues and realized the other side.
        It’s important to look at both sides. Sometimes facts ARE presented first. Sometimes they are not. But you should still go try to verify those facts.

      • Ankhel says:

        I would like to know that too. What I remember was, Brendan confessed to tying Halbach up in Avery’s bedroom, and violently torturing her there. Thing is, Avery’s home was a cluttered, dirty mess with old carpets, old wall paper, and old soft furnishings. Typical ageing bachelor pad. I saw the crime scene photos. How could Theresa Halbach possibly have been tortured there a few weeks before CSI arrived – and yet none of her DNA was found inside Avery’s home? That part of Brendan’s confession MUST have been false. So what about the rest?

      • Peggy says:

        It’s from the interview transcripts, the court filings and the court transcripts.

        There’s a reason the doc spent so much time on that one out of context interview, and so little time on what led up to it and what happened in court after it.

        That goes for Avery too, the documentary left out so many things that didn’t fit the narrative they were building. The makers even admitted that they left a ton out. They said they had to due to the time constraints, but anyone who’s watched the doc knows it’s slow. There’s a good 20 minutes in there of Avery’s parents just sitting around looking sad, but apparently no time for a lot of the most important evidence.

      • KBB says:

        I hate that it is even referred to as a documentary, given how they twisted and manipulated every detail they could and just completely ignored and excluded the stuff they couldn’t. If there’s a sequel, it needs to be done by different people.

    • broodytrudy says:

      Ding ding ding! Read the court docs, they’re both guilty as sin. The trial was a mess, but they got the right guys. Right guys, wrong process.

    • Tanesha86 says:

      Thank you for this info Peggy, I honestly had no idea. I haven’t watched the documentary to this day because I heard it was extremely biased in Avery and Dassey’s favor and I definitely won’t be watching it ever.

    • beatrixkiddo says:

      I urge anyone interested in this case to please, PLEASE listen to o read beyond this very biased doc. You can begin with the Generation Why podcast on the case as a starting point.

      Avery is guilty as sin. Tortured and killed his own cat. Stalked a terrified women. Ran his cousin down with a car and threatened her with a gun because she told people he was sexually assaulting her. And poor Theresa had begged her company never to send her to Avery again because he scared her–so Avery used his sister’s phone to trick the company into sending Theresa to his home.
      And the physical evidence is all too real to wash away with “but maaaaaaybe….” That’s a lot of “maybe” for a violent man the victim herself admitted fear of.
      He did it.

    • H says:

      @Peggy, you make some amazing arguments that point to Dassey’s guilt. That “documentary” was a joke, so slanted and biased, but it fooled a lot of the general public who don’t research the case further.

    • holly hobby says:

      Always believe in the court documents. There was a reason why those two were convicted. This “poor child” bit is very disingenuous from the defense’s side and the documentary.

    • Kayle says:

      Doc was clearly slanted but still no idea on Dassey.

      The problem is that when you look at transcripts, you’ll notice he changes his story a little too often based on investigator suggestions of information. For example, he originally told the investigators she was shot outside but changed that when the investigators suggested the garage floor area instead.

      I too can often key crime details if I’m lead right to them.

    • tealily says:

      Thanks, Peggy! I confess, I haven’t been able to finish Making a Murderer, because I just don’t think the case is that interesting. They seem pretty guilty, the doc seems biased, and way longer than it needs to be.

    • FlyLikeAbird says:

      In the words of national treasure 50 Cent “whatever they say he did, he did that shit. Guilty AF”. Anywho they should get Kim K on the case. She can shake her ant body at Trump, get the pardon and secure a Netflix check in the sequel. Win∼win.

    • Morning Coffee says:

      Yes! Thank you. I lived in Wisconsin during this time. The Averys are both guilty. When this Making a Murderer came out and everyone was talking about how Steven was innocent, I couldn’t believe it. So, I sat down and binged the thing in about 3 days. Wow. What biased garbage. All the things you mention above are spot on. The multiple interviews with Brendan that were not shown – only this one. The fact that someone has a low IQ doesn’t give then a get out of jail free card and Brendan’s was shown to be higher than Avery’s.

  4. Anniefannie says:

    Unbelievable! The only thing that was a certainty after watching this series was that Brendan’s
    “confession” was coming from a kid who was clearly incapable of understanding when he was being manipulated and fed the info necessary to charge him. Rarely do you see so much evidence of police misconduct on video. This makes me weep for Justice and Brendan

    • H says:

      @AnnieFannie, actually police are allowed to lie in interrogations and that’s been backed up by the Supreme Court.

      As for ‘feeding’ Brandon information, if he was involved in the crime they didn’t need to feed him anyting. If you read the actual interrogation transcripts — all of them — and while there may have been some ethical concerns because of Brandon’s age and intellectual capabilities, Brandon knew far too much about the actual crime.

      It’s my belief that Avery thought he could get away with murder because he had gone to jail for a crime he didn’t commit and influenced Brandon into helping him.

      As I used to tell my criminal justice students, I don’t care if you committed a crime or didn’t commit a crime, the minute police start interrogating you, you stop and ask for a lawyer IMMEDIATELY. In recent years, apparently that lecture resonated because I’ve gotten a lot of emails from former students thanking me for that advice.

    • Peggy says:

      The police weren’t feeding him information, they were just bringing up the things he’d already told them. The interview shown in the documentary was his seventh. He’d already told them almost everything, and that final interview was the police going over it again and Dassey putting the last pieces into place and elaborating on a few things he’d said previously.

      I’ve read all the transcripts. There’s one slip up by one of the detectives in there. He mentions that a gun was involved before Dassey says it. He doesn’t say what gun (the Avery’s property was loaded with many, many options) or if/how it was used though, and Dassey got those two details exactly right. That’s the one mistake made with how things with Dassey were handled, and it doesn’t matter because Dassey knew far, far more than the detective let slip.

  5. Anastasia says:

    I don’t believe he is guilty. And the interrogation of him was AWFUL. It’s too bad the SC refused to hear the case. Damn.

  6. slowsnow says:

    The documentary “Making a Murderer” made me feel very very uncomfortable and I stopped watching. It was biased since the beginning when it was clear that those guys were guilty. Due process was perhaps eschewed but the murderers were them.
    Also, I watched The Staircase and got the same feeling. Lots of things unanswered and lots of focus on the misconduct of the police – which was a reality unfortunately. It doesn’t mean the guy did it, but the documentary doesn’t focus on obvious evidence such as the very problematic apparition of the supposed murder weapon.

    • Doodle says:

      Have you watched all of the Staorcase? It’s only following the defense so of course you feel it’s biased. I would love to see the same but on the prosecution side. If you follow the case you’ll find out how corrupt the one guy on the prosecution’s side is. What’s his name… Duane something… if you haven’t watched it all, you should.

      I watched making a murderer the day it came out, just before it became this huge thing and before I realized how biased it was. I loved it, then went on to do some research on thmy case and realized how duped I had been. I have no interest in watching another season.

      • Slowsnow says:

        I saw it almost to the end and it’s stupefying how no one understood that the Duane guy was a complete and utter fraud. My husband and I were flabbergasted while watching it. It was obvious that the forensics results were not correct. However, when Mike Peterson’s son suddenly finds the blow poke… That was incredibly strange and never really addressed. Also, the adopted girls look exactly like Mike and his sons… I have suspicions about his real relationship with his wife’s colleague in Germany. There is so much stuff, really. His lying about an injury in the war. He came across as very narcissistic. Not convinced he did it though… There were horrible homophobic suggestions by the police too. In that regard, it did highlight huge problems form the prosecution’s perspective but also the jury with their racism regarding the Chinese investigator.
        However, it also made me uncomfortable to see how performative it all seemed on Mike Peterson’s side too. He seemed very narcissistic and strangely alienated.

      • eto says:

        I read somewhere that they did DNA tests on the girls as part of the trial, and were found not be related to Mike at all.

      • Mia C says:

        Wow. Thanks for sharing. I have NO desire to be manipulated into siding with murderers. I used to love Dateline because the opposite was true. It felt like you were watching killers get nabbed.

    • Mel M says:

      I watched Making a Murderer when it first came out and felt duped after reading more about the case

      I binged the staircase and I still don’t know. If I watch it through the eyes of thinking he’s guilty he looks it. If I think he’s innocent and a victim of the system then he looks like it. If he in fact did it though it’s not anybody’s fault that he’s free now but the prosecution because of that fraud Duane Deaver. From the beginning of his testimony he sounded like he had no idea what he was talking about. The fact that he got away with lying for so long without anyone checking him out is scary. But yeah, I have no idea if Mike is guilty. I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

    • broodytrudy says:

      The staircase was put out by the defense and Peterson dated the editor of the doc. Browsing reddit will give you a better idea of what happened in this case. Peterson is also guilty af.

  7. Honey Bear says:

    He is one of the most unattractive people I’ve ever seen.

  8. Jessica edobor says:

    honestly if this was an African American boy he wouldnt see a judge until he’s way into his adult years but at the same time I don’t believe a young boy or girl whose under seventeen should be placed in jail for the rest off his or her life they should be giving the chance to rehabilitate. at that age we should all be giving the chance to make our mistakes and learn from them not their lives being taken away or cut short for something they did when they we’re clearly teenagers who are still developing. I place infacisis on teenagers because their neither kids or adults their at that awkward stage where their figure themselves out. Regardless of color, religious background or cultural background this needs to change.

  9. Dani says:

    Those of you talking about the staircase, I read an owl theory I would love to hear other’s take on. I feel it’s plausible!

  10. PJMA says:

    Michael Peterson is guilty. However, the “blood expert” was a fraud which raised “reasonable doubt” in the end. Peterson “lucked out”. But the blood spatter and the several fractures to Kathleen’s skull showed that her death did not result from falling down the stairs. He did it in a fit of pique when she may have discovered his sexual activities when she used his computer to check on a meeting she was to attend the next day. The doc was biased in his favor from the outset. Deaver’s fraud set him free.

    Also, Dassey had confessed to a female cousin at a party. She related it to the police. But when she got on the stand she recanted. Dassey may have been slow but he was involved. That documentary was also biased in favor of the defense. They both took part in the murder.