‘Making a Murderer’: What’s Going On With Brendan Dassey Now?

Most people who watch the Netflix series Making a Murderer become obsessed with the idea of Steven Avery being innocent – and rightfully so. There are plenty of reasons to believe that Avery was wrongfully accused of a major crime for the second time in his life. But with the spotlight trained on Avery, it’s far too common to neglect another potentially innocent victim. His name? Brendan Dassey.

For every person who believes Steven Avery is innocent, there are three who think Dassey’s confession was coerced and he’s not guilty of anything besides being a vulnerable teen. Did Brendan Dassey really help murder Teresa Halbach? Here’s what’s going on with him now.

Brendan Dassey
Brendan Dassey | Netflix via YouTube

Who is Brendan Dassey?

Brendan Ray Dassey was born on October 19, 1989. His life changed forever in October 2005 when he was 16 years old. That’s when Dassey was convicted along with his uncle, Steven Avery, for the murder of local photographer Teresa Halbach.

Dassey grew up with his parents, three brothers and one half brother on family property that’s part of the Avery Salvage Yard in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Quiet and reserved, Dassey was found to have an extremely low IQ and required special classes in school. That’s a large part of the reason that people believe Dassey didn’t actually commit murder.

Why was Brendan Dassey convicted?

No one is exactly sure what happened on that fateful 2005 evening. The one thing that’s indisputable? A young local photographer was murdered, and there was enough evidence of foul play to get Steven Avery convicted of murder. Brendan Dassey, Avery’s nephew, was thought to be his accomplice.

But the most damning evidence against Dassey was the taped confession where the 16-year-old confessed to helping his uncle murder Teresa Halbach and get rid of the body. Both Dassey and his mother consented to the interrogations, but later the interrogation techniques were ruled “clearly involuntary in a constitutional sense” by a US magistrate judge.

Brendan Dassey later recanted the entire confession. But by then, it was too late.

Why is Brendan Dassey’s confession so controversial?

The first thing that makes Brendan Dassey’s confession suspect is that by the time he made it, he was mentally exhausted. The teen was interrogated four times in 48 hours and was questioned three times in just 24 hours. Investigators used a method of questioning called the Reid technique, which is used explicitly to make suspects confess. Critics say it often produces false confessions.

Dassey went to trial in 2007 and was tried and sentenced as an adult. After a four hour deliberation, Brendan Dassey was found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, rape and mutilation of a corpse.

Is Brendan Dassey getting out of jail?

Making a Murderer
Prison | Netflix via YouTube

Like Steven Avery, Dassey’s legal team is working on getting his guilty conviction overturned. Dassey’s case was one of the main focuses in the Making a Murderer sequel, which was released in 2018. But even though the documentary made it seem like Dassey would be getting out of prison soon, for now he’s still there. Why?

The simple answer is that the appeals process is long and difficult, even for a case that seems obvious. Even though the magistrate judge found Dassey’s confession unconstitutional in 2016, that doesn’t mean he’s just getting out of prison. In December 2017, the Seventh Cirtcuit Court upheld Dassey’s original guilty conviction in a vote of 4 to 3. Most recently, Dassey’s appeal for a retrial was denied.

Unless something changes, Brendan Dassey will continue serving his sentence until 2048 when he’ll be eligible for parole (he’ll be 59). But his legal team and the Wisconsin Innocence Project hope to get Brendan Dassey released from prison long before that day.