CHICAGO – A three-judge federal appeals panel has affirmed that a Wisconsin inmate was coerced into confessing and should be released from prison.
The case was chronicled in the 10-part Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” which suggested that investigators took advantage of Brendan Dassey’s youth and limited intellect to coax him into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit.
At 16-years-old, Dassey confessed to authorities that he assisted his uncle, Steven Avery, in raping and killing photographer Teresa Halbach in the Avery family’s Manitowoc County salvage yard.
In 2007, Dassey was sentenced to life in prison.
Avery, 54, is serving a life sentence at a Wisconsin prison.
A federal magistrate judge ruled in August that investigators coerced Dassey at the time he confessed and suffered from cognitive problems.
The state Justice Department appealed the ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit on Thursday affirmed the lower court and said Dassey should be freed unless the state chooses to retry him.