A federal appeals panel ruled that the murder confession made by Brendan Dassey, one of the subjects of the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer, was coerced, reports the Los Angeles Times.
In 2007, Dassey was was found guilty, along with his uncle Steven Avery, of murdering photographer Teresa Halbach in Wisconsin two years earlier. Dassey was was sentenced to 41 years in prison.
In August 2016, his conviction was overturned by a judge, who ruled that the police had tricked Dassey. (Dassey is intellectually disabled and was only 16 at the time of his confession.) The judge ordered that Dassey be released from prison while the prosecutors appealed his ruling.
Dassey was scheduled to leave prison in November 2016. News outlets even reported about Dassey's release in past tense, but at the last minute, his release was blocked by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel.
However, on Thursday, the federal appeals panel upheld the judge's earlier decision to overturn Dassey's conviction.
Johnny Koremenos, a spokesman for Schimel, said the office will likely appeal the panel's decision. He stated that he hopes "that today's erroneous decision will be reversed." He added, "We continue to send our condolences to the Halbach family as they have to suffer through another attempt by Mr. Dassey to re-litigate his guilty verdict and sentence.
Dassey's lawyers made a statement calling this win "a significant step closer to achieving that justice." They said in part,
In rejecting the State's assertion that Brendan confessed voluntarily, the court acknowledged what many parents already recognize: Brendan's youthfulness and intellectual disability make him particularly vulnerable in the interrogation room.
They added, "[W]e look forward to working to secure his release from prison as soon as possible. As of today’s date, Brendan Dassey has lost 4,132 days of his life to prison."