‘Making a Murderer’: Brendan Dassey Wasn’t Released From Prison Yet — Here’s Why

With everyone talking about Steven Avery getting another shot at a trial and potentially even getting out of prison soon, it really calls to mind one question: Who really killed Teresa Halbach?

The answer to that question is unclear. But we do know that the murderer probably wasn’t Brendan Dassey – especially if Steven Avery didn’t do it. So that just leads people to wonder: If Brendan Dassey is innocent, then why is he still in prison?

Brendan Dassey
Brendan Dassey | Netflix

Who is Brendan Dassey?

Anyone who watched Making a Murderer knows that Brendan Dassey is the nephew of convicted murderer Steven Avery. During the investigation and trial, Dassey was painted as an accomplice of Avery’s and eventually charged with first degree murder at the age of 16.

Born Brendan Ray Dassey in 1989, Steven Avery’s nephew lived with his mother, three brothers, and half-brother on land associated with the Avery Salvage Yard property. Incredibly quiet and introverted, it was later determined that Dassey also has intellectual impairments, too. That just makes what happened next even worse.  

Brendan Dassey confession
Brendan Dassey | Netflix via YouTube

Did Brendan Dassey commit murder?

Brendan Dassey’s murder confession is a study in everything that shouldn’t happen during an interrogation. Most people believe his confession was coerced – it’s clear enough on the tapes. Yes, Dassey did admit to helping his uncle Steven Avery kill Teresa Halbach. But he later recanted and claims he said those things under duress.

It’s not for sure, but most evidence indicates that Brendan Dassey did not commit murder. He only admitted it to make the stressful interrogation stop.

How was Brendan Dassey’s confession coerced?

Brendan Dassey
Brendan Dassey | Netflix via YouTube

Dassey was interrogated four times in 48 hours with no legal representative or parent present. The interrogating officers used a method called the Reid technique, which is used on suspects to pressure them into confessing. This pressure often leads to false confessions – especially for young, vulnerable interview subjects like Brendan Dassey.

Later, a lower court and a panel of three judges in the appeals court all agreed that Dassey’s confession was involuntary and therefore void. However, in 2017 the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the original conviction, meaning Dassey had to stay in prison even when everyone thought he was getting out.

Judge Ilana Rovner didn’t hold back with her opinion on the matter: “Dassey was subjected to myriad psychologically coercive techniques, but the state court did not review his interrogation with the special care required by Supreme Court precedent. His confession was not voluntary and his conviction should not stand, and yet an impaired teenager has been sentenced to life in prison.”

Will Brendan Dassey ever get out of jail?

Making a Murderer
Prison | Netflix via YouTube

At the latest, Brendan Dassey will be eligible for parole in 2048 when he’s 59 years old. But attorney Kathleen Zellner is intent on bringing the case to justice well before then. Dassey is currently being represented by Prof Steven Drizin and Prof Laura Nirider from the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth. Both have significant experience with false confessions from juvenile suspects.

The end of Making a Murderer Part 2 made it seem like Brendan Dassey was about to be released. But as of February 2019, he’s still in prison.