After a year of hope that Making a Murderer subject Branden Dassey might be freed in 2017 after spending a decade in prison for a crime he claims he did not commit, the U.S. Supreme Court denied taking up his case on Monday, June 25, according to Variety.
The news comes as a blow to Dassey’s defense team, his friends and family, and his supporters. In 2016, judge William Duffin ruled that Dassey’s confession to police concerning the 2005 rape and murder of Wisconsin photographer Teresa Halbach was coerced. An appeals court held up the decision one year later, but when the case was reviewed by an en banc court in December, the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 4-3 that Dassey’s confession was voluntary.
Had the Supreme Court chosen to take up the case, it might have meant freedom for Dassey, now in his late 20s. The Washington Post reports that, as is customary, the Supreme Court did not provide a reason for denying intervention in the case.
This decision is a blow to our criminal justice system, humanity, society & all those that are not just fighting for Brendan, but fighting 4 juveniles in the system, & those future ones. The fight 4 justice is far from over. #mam So sorry 4 @SDrizin @LauraNirider @cwcyouth https://t.co/F0TEBmGUCp
— Marty Tankleff (@xoner8ed) June 25, 2018
Dassey was just 16 years old when he confessed to assisting his uncle, Steven Avery, in the rape and murder of Halbach. He was sentenced to life in prison, with earliest possible parole in 2048, in 2007. His lawyers argued that he was fed the “right” answers by police during his interrogation and that his age and developmental abilities were not taken into account when his conviction was handed down, per CNN. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed when they voted to uphold Dassey’s conviction in December, arguing that he knew his Miranda rights and spoke freely after police received permission from his mother to interrogate him.
Now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case, it’s unclear what path Dassey and his defense team can take to overturn his conviction. The back-and-forth in this appeals process has been a rollercoaster and this newest information is bleak. Dassey has served 12 years of his life sentence. Meanwhile, Avery is still appealing his case, per Variety. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole.