In a major reversal, the Eastern District of Wisconsin has ruled that Brendan Dassey, the nephew of Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery, is to be immediately released from prison. Dassey and Avery were handed lifetime sentences after being found guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, but—in line with the conclusion that many drew while watching Making a Murderer—the court has now found, a decade later, that Dassey’s constitutional rights were violated during the investigation of the crime.
Dassey was 16 at the time of Halbach’s murder in 2005, and he has protested unfair treatment in the years since. Making a Murderer sparked intense controversy from various angles, including its despairing depiction of the legal system and its allegedly selective presentation of facts from the case. However, the series’ various accusations, leveled in reference to both Avery and Dassey’s convictions, have just received a major point of validation.
Despite the failure of a White House petition and various other efforts to free Avery—who is serving time without parole—Netflix is currently preparing a second season of Making a Murderer, which is still of an undisclosed focus and number of episodes. This news will undoubtedly make a huge impact on its direction and intent and could potentially have major implications on Avery’s sentence and the troubled case in general.
The official court order reads that Dassey “be released from custody unless, within 90 days of the date of this decision, the state initiates proceedings to retry him.” According to experts, such an appeal is considered likely.