Dassey attorneys seek clemency from Gov. Evers

Posted at 10:30 a.m. on October 2, 2019 The Brillion News MADISON – The attorneys representing Brendan Dassey are asking Governor Tony Evers for clemency for their client, who was a teenager when convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach, alo ng with his uncle Steven Avery. The clemency petition was made public on October 2 when Dassey’s attorneys, including Laura Nirider of the Northwestern University Law School’s Center for the Wrongful Conviction of Youth, appeared on a special edition of the long-running podcast, “Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom.” The podcast features the first-ever interview with “Making a Murderer” co-defendant Brendan Dassey and attorney Laura Nirider. A 16-year-old special needs student at the time that he confessed to the crimes, Dassey was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder and second-degree sexual assault of Teresa Halbach, as well as mutilation of her corpse. Avery was also sent to prison for the crime. Dassey, along with Avery, is the subject of Netflix’s documentary series “Making a Murderer,” which became a global pop culture phenomenon. In 2006, Dassey gave a videotaped confession to the murder and sexual assault of Halbach. That confession – which was extracted after he was interrogated four times over 48 hours – has been widely touted as being false and coerced. Critics of the interrogation believe that Dassey was unable to describe the crime accurately without being directed by interrogators. The Netflix documentary said Dassey recanted his confession immediately after he made it, and no other evidence tied him to Halbach’s disappearance. “I just wanted it all over with,” said Dassey. “So, I said whatever they wanted to hear, you know?” Flom visited Dassey in prison and interviewed him over the phone for the podcast. “It’s counterintuitive to think that anybody would confess to a crime they didn’t commit,” Flom says. “Yet studies show that false confessions are a key factor in at least one out of every four of wrongful convictions. This phenomenon is particularly common among adolescents and people with mental challenges, but we know that everyone, from all walks of life, has a breaking point. It’s not hard to understand that under enough duress, a false statement could be coerced.” Dassey was nevertheless convicted based on that confession and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole until 2048. In 2016, two separate courts threw out his confession and overturned his conviction before a federal appeals court in Chicago reversed course, arguing that the Constitution doesn’t recognize the falsity of a confession as a reason to overturn a conviction. That reversal came about as Dassey’s legal team had come within just 12 hours of securing his release. This special edition of “Wrongful Conviction” was released on the same day that Dassey’s attorneys – , Nirider, Steven Drizin, and Seth Waxman of the Center on Wrongful Conviction – filed a petition for clemency that seeks to grant Dassey his freedom. The petition, filed with Governor Tony Evers, will seek either a pardon – which would wipe away Dassey’s convictions – or a commutation of Dassey’s sentence. While Wisconsin’s previous governor, Scott Walker, refused to even consider pardon requests, Governor Evers has stated that his administration will grant pardons. Evers declined to comment on whether he would entertain a pardon request from Dassey, the legal team is hopeful that the petition for clemency will end Dassey’s incarceration. ~ Source: Dawn Kamerling, The Press House

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