US supreme court declines to hear Making A Murderer case

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The US supreme court is declining to weigh in on the case of a teenager convicted of rape and murder which was featured in the Netflix series Making A Murderer.

The court’s decision not to take the case leaves in place a lower court ruling against Brendan Dassey.

Dassey was 16 years old when he confessed to Wisconsin authorities that he’d joined his uncle in raping and murdering photographer Teresa Halbach before burning her body in a bonfire in 2005.

US supreme court
The US supreme court (AP)

Dassey’s attorneys can still try to get him a new trial but they would have to convince a judge that newly discovered evidence warrants one.

Wisconsin officials had urged the supreme court not to take the case, telling the court it should not second-guess Wisconsin courts’ determination that Dassey’s confession was voluntary.

Prosecutors noted that Dassey’s mother gave investigators permission to speak with him, that Dassey agreed to it, and that during the interview investigators used only standard techniques such as adopting a sympathetic tone and encouraging honesty.

Wisconsin attorney general Brad Schimel said in a statement that his office was “pleased” with the Supreme Court’s decision not to take the case.

He said: “We hope the family and friends of Ms Halbach can find comfort in knowing this ordeal has finally come to a close.”

Dassey’s attorneys can still try to get him a new trial but they would have to convince a judge that newly discovered evidence warrants one.

“We will continue to fight to free Brendan Dassey,” Dassey attorney Laura Nirider said in a statement after the decision was revealed.

The supreme court’s decision comes as there are plans for a second season of Making A Murderer, which premiered on Netflix in 2015.

Viewers of the first season were introduced to Dassey’s uncle, Steven Avery, who spent 18 years in prison for a rape before DNA testing exonerated him. After his release, he filed a multimillion-dollar civil suit over his conviction, but in 2005 as that lawsuit was pending he was arrested for and later convicted of Halbach’s murder. Avery maintains he was framed.

At Dassey’s separate trial, video of him speaking with investigators and confessing to participating in Halbach’s rape and murder played a central role. Authorities had no physical evidence tying Dassey to the crimes, and he testified that his confession was “made up”, but a jury convicted him.

He is eligible for parole in 2048.

While Wisconsin courts ruled Dassey’s confession was voluntary, a federal magistrate judge and a three-judge appeals court panel disagreed, saying he should be retried or released from prison.

Then, in late 2017, the full appeals court ruled by 4-3 that the state courts’ determination that Dassey’s confession was voluntary was reasonable, meaning no release or retrial. The Supreme Court’s announcement means that decision is still in place.

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