A judge overturned the conviction of a Wisconsin man found guilty of helping his uncle kill a woman in a case profiled in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” the Associated Press reports. The judge said investigators coerced a confession using deceptive tactics. U.S. Magistrate William Duffin in Milwaukee ordered Brendan Dassey freed within 90 days unless prosecutors decide to retry him. Dassey’s case got wide attention with the popularity of the Netflix series, which debuted in December.
Filmmakers cast doubt on the legal process used to convict Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, in the death of Teresa Halbach. Authorities involved in the case called the 10-hour series biased, while the filmmakers have stood by their work.
Dassey confessed to helping Avery carry out the rape and killing of Halbach. His attorneys argued that his constitutional rights were violated throughout the investigation. Dassey didn’t testify at his uncle’s trial and his confession wasn’t presented as evidence. Both men are serving life sentences. Duffin said investigators made false promises to Dassey by assuring him “he had nothing to worry about.” The judge said, “These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (of the U.S. Constitution).”