State fights inmate release
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state of Wisconsin moved quickly Tuesday to try and block, or at least delay, the release of a man convicted in the case featured in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel asked that a federal court order made Monday to release Brendan Dassey be put on hold, saying the harm in releasing him is “real and substantial.” Schimel also appealed the order to release Dassey to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Schimel asked U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin to decide on the request to put on hold Duffin’s ruling releasing Dassey by 4 p.m. Wednesday. The state also will be filing an emergency motion in the federal appeals court, Schimel said.
Dassey remained in prison in Wisconsin while the legal fight played out. Dassey’s attorneys had to tell probation officers by Tuesday where he planned to live upon release, and that location was subject to inspection before Dassey would be released. Dassey’s attorney, Steve Drizin, said on Monday that he hoped Dassey would be home by Thanksgiving.
Dassey’s family lives in northeast Wisconsin.
Drizin did not immediately return phone or email messages Tuesday seeking comment on the state’s appeal of the order to release Dassey.
The judge ruled in August that investigators tricked Dassey into confessing he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape, kill and mutilate photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005 at the Avery family salvage yard
in Manitowoc County.
Dassey was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree sexual assault and mutilating a corpse. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2007. Court documents describe Dassey as a slow learner who had poor grades and has difficulty understanding language and speaking.
Dassey’s conviction was overturned in August on the grounds that his confession was coerced. In its court filings Tuesday, the state argued that regardless of any legal challenges to Dassey’s confession “the record does not support a claim that Dassey is actually innocent.”
“Dassey’s release should be regarded as a serious public safety issue,” Schimel and Assistant Attorney General Jacob Wittwer wrote. “The public interest favors continued custody in these circumstances, regardless of Dassey’s recent conduct in a controlled prison setting.”
Dassey, now 27, was 16 when Halbach was killed.
Avery was convicted in a separate trial and was also sentenced to life in prison. He’s pursuing his own appeal.
Their cases gained national attention after Netflix aired “Making a Murderer” last year. The documentary-style series spawned widespread conjecture about the pair’s innocence. Authorities who worked on the men’s cases said the series was biased, but it generated calls from the public to free them.
Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer .
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.