Judge orders release of Brendan Dassey; Attorney General files emergency motion to stop it

Dept of Corrections photo
Dept of Corrections photo

WISCONSIN (WBAY) – The same federal magistrate who overturned Brendan Dassey’s conviction back in August has now ordered Dassey’s supervised release from prison.

The order by U.S. Magistrate William Duffin was handed down Monday.

But an hour after that news was public, the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced Attorney General Brad Schimel is filing an emergency motion with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the release.

Dassey is serving a life sentence for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach, a freelance photographer who disappeared after an assignment on the Avery property in Manitowoc County. The case gained global attention after the release of the “Making A Murderer”, a Netflix docu-series making a case that the convicted killers were set up by a vengeful Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office.

One of Dassey’s attorneys, Steve Drizin, tells Action 2 News he does not expect his client to be released Monday.

The State is still appealing Duffin’s ruling in August overturning the conviction. While that appeal is still in the court system, Dassey’s attorneys filed a motion in September to have him released. The state filed an objection to that motion, which was denied Monday with magistrate’s order.

The 17-page order signed by Duffin on Monday says that a United States Probation Office monitor will make sure Dassey is compliant with the conditions of release imposed by the court while his case is being appealed.

Conditions include: Dassey shall not violate any laws, he must appear in court as required, he cannot have a gun or weapon, he cannot possess any controlled substances, and he cannot have contact with Steven Avery or the family of Teresa Halbach.

Dassey has until noon Tuesday to provide an address where he’ll be staying to the U.S. Probation Office. The office will then inspect the residence to make sure it’s suitable for Dassey.

A social worker and probation officers will help him transition to life out of prison after nearly 10 years behind bars.

Dassey’s travel will be restricted to the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Drizin says the news Dassey’s release could come soon has brought joy and excitement to the family.

“They have faith in Brendan. They have faith that the system will get to the truth and has gotten to the truth when it declared that Brendan’s confession wasn’t reliable. And at this point we just have to have faith that the system is doing to continue reaching the right result,” Laura Nirider of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth said.

Dassey’s brother Brad celebrated the news on his Facebook page.

In August, a federal magistrate ruled that investigators coerced Dassey’s confession that he helped his uncle Steven Avery rape and kill Halbach in 2005. The judge overturned Dassey’s conviction, and Dassey filed a motion to be released. Dassey was 16 at the time he was interviewed by police.

“The court concluded that, when viewed collectively, various assertions and assurances the investigators repeatedly made to Dassey amounted to false promises that he would not be punished,” reads the August 12 order.

The state of Wisconsin is appealing the judge’s decision. In October, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel filed the opening brief in the state’s appeal.

“We’re still four or five months out from the briefing being done, then the court will consider the evidence. And, it was a nine-day trial, as I recall. There’s an enormous amount of evidence for the appellate court to look over and prepare with and so, it, we’re probably quite some months out from a decision,” Schimel told Action 2 News.

Steven Avery appealing his homicide conviction with the help of Chicago-area lawyer Kathleen Zellner. Zellner took to Twitter to celebrate the judge’s decision in Dassey’s case.

At 1:20 p.m., as news of the judge’s order was spreading, Zellner tweeted that she was with the Avery family. She’s since deleted that tweet.

With the Avery family right now. Brendan Dassey to be released today. #MakingAMurderer

Action 2 News has crews across the state right now covering this story as it develops, including reaction to the judge’s decision. Manitowoc County Executive Bob Ziegelbauer is reminding people to remember the victim.

“I think the legal issues are complicated and they’ll get decided in the court of law and that will be fine, and in the meantime I’m just thinking about the Halbach family,” Ziegelbauer said.

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