'Making A Murderer' Isn't Just About Steven Avery

by Melissah Yang

Just as Serial and The Jinx did before it, Netflix's Making A Murderer has enraptured Americans eager to put on their detective caps to find out who was behind the murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach. But while much of the focus has been on Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was first made famous after spending 18 years in prison on a wrongful conviction for the sexual assault of another woman, it's important to remember that there are two men whose fates hang in the 10-episode docuseries. Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, also stood accused of Halbach's murder, and near the close of Making A Murderer, you find out what exactly happened to the teenager.

On March 17, 2007, Dassey was convicted on all three charges facing him: first-degree intentional homicide, mutilation of a corpse, and first-degree sexual assault. (Avery was also convicted of first-degree intentional homicide but not for the mutilation of a corpse.) Dassey was sentenced to life in prison, with a chance for early release in 2048 — when he will be 59 years old.

During an interrogation, Dassey, who was then just 16, confessed to sexually assaulting Halbach in Avery's trailer and cutting her throat to help his uncle kill her. But Dassey later claimed this confession was false and coerced by authorities. No scientific evidence corroborated this narrative — none of Halbach's DNA was discovered inside of Avery's home.

Dassey, who has already exhausted all of his state appeal options, does have a small possibility for a new trial. His case is waiting to be reviewed by a federal judge on the claim that his first trial lawyer, Len Kachinsky, allegedly did not have Dassey's best interests at heart and effectively aided the prosecution in building its case against Avery. In a statement, Kachinsky's law office denied that characterization to Bustle. "Dassey has not convinced us that Kachinsky's actions amounted to an actual conflict and that Kachinsky's advocacy was adversely affected, such that it was detrimental to Dassey's interests," the statement read. "He is not entitled to a new trial or hearing."

Hacktivist group Anonymous has also taken up the Avery/Dassey cause, claiming this week that it will release evidence that will bring new light to the two men's cases. Anonymous claims it has proof that some members of the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office allegedly plotted to frame Halbach's murder on Avery, though the group has yet to make good on its promises.

Today, Dassey is 26 years old and is at the Green Bay Correctional Facility in Green Bay, Wisconsin — coincidentally, the same location where Avery served eight of 18 years for his wrongful conviction. Making A Murderer has brought renewed interest in both Dassey's and Avery's cases, and perhaps they might find themselves taking the same path as Adnan Syed, the subject of Serial's Season 1, who awaits a new post-conviction hearing in February for the death of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

Images: Making A Murderer/Netflix