Supreme Court declines to hear 'Making a Murderer' case


    In this March 3, 2006, file photo, Brendan Dassey is escorted out of a Manitowoc County Circuit courtroom. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is declining to weigh in on the case of a teenager convicted of rape and murder and featured in the Netflix series "Making a Murderer."

    As is typical, the justices did not explain their decision declining to take the case. The justices' decision leaves in place a lower court ruling against Brendan Dassey.

    Dassey was 16 years old when he confessed to Wisconsin authorities that he'd joined his uncle, Steven Avery, in raping and murdering photographer Teresa Halbach before burning her body in a bonfire in 2005. Dassey's attorneys say he's borderline intellectually disabled and was pressured into a false confession. They wanted his confession thrown out and a new trial.

    Dassey's attorneys say they will continue to fight to free their client. Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel for the Juvenile Law Center said she was disappointing with the courts decision and vowed to also continuing fighting for Dassey.

    "It should have been evident to anyone that watched the Making a Murder series and you can see the interrogation unfolding before your own eyes, how Brendan was coerced into telling law enforcement what they wanted to hear," Levick said. "Brendan is now facing decades in prison for a crime we believe he did not commit. The Supreme Court was his last chance," she said.

    Wisconsin Attorney General, Brad Schimel, released the following statement:

    “DOJ is pleased that the Supreme Court of the United States denied Mr. Dassey’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari, and the decision of an en banc panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit stands. We hope the family and friends of Ms. Halbach can find comfort in knowing this ordeal has finally come to a close.”

    Wisconsin officials had urged the Supreme Court not to take the case, telling the court it shouldn't second-guess Wisconsin courts' determination that Dassey's confession was voluntary. Prosecutors noted that Dassey's mother gave investigators permission to speak with him, that Dassey agreed as well and that during the interview investigators used only standard techniques such as adopting a sympathetic tone and encouraging honesty.

    Dassey's attorneys can still try to get him a new trial but they'd have to convince a judge that newly discovered evidence warrants one.

    Avery's former attorney, Jerome Buting, released the following statement shortly after the high court's decision:

    Ken Kratz, the original prosecutor in the Avery/Dassey case released a series of tweets on Twitter Monday:


    The Supreme Court's decision comes as there are plans for a second season of "Making a Murderer," which premiered on Netflix in 2015. Viewers of the first season were introduced to Dassey's uncle, Avery, who spent 18 years in prison for a rape before DNA testing exonerated him. After his release, he filed a multi-million dollar civil suit over his conviction, but in 2005 as that lawsuit was pending he was arrested for and later convicted of Halbach's murder. Avery maintains he was framed.

    At Dassey's separate trial, video of him speaking with investigators and confessing to participating in Halbach's rape and murder played a central role. Authorities had no physical evidence tying Dassey to the crimes, and he testified that his confession was "made up" but a jury convicted him. He's eligible for parole in 2048.

    While Wisconsin courts ruled Dassey's confession was voluntary, a federal magistrate judge and a three-judge appeals court panel disagreed, saying he should be retried or released from prison. Then, in late 2017, the full appeals court ruled 4-3 that the state courts' determination that Dassey's confession was voluntary was reasonable, meaning no release or retrial. The Supreme Court's announcement it wouldn't take the case left that decision in place.

    Last week, Avery’s defense team asked for a new judge. He has his appeal pending in Wisconsin state court.

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