It's been a year since Netflix's Making a Murderer, a docuseries about the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach and the subsequent trial in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, captured the nation's attention. There have been several significant developments in the case since the series first aired — and there will be continue to be more in the future, as evidenced by the most recent update on Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, the two men convicted in connection with Halbach's death.
In August, Avery's attorney Kathleen Zellner asked a judge to permit retesting of several key pieces of evidence used to convict Avery, arguing that more accurate test methods exist now than when the items were originally tested. The judge agreed, and in December, multiple pieces of DNA evidence were sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab for additional testing, Post-Crescent reported.
Dassey, meanwhile, had his conviction thrown out by a lower court on the grounds that his confession was improperly coerced. However, a federal judge blocked his release from prison in November after state prosecutors appealed that decision and demanded a retrial. On Dec. 6, his lawyers appealed to block that decision, and to procure his release before the new trial is completed.
Avery and Dassey had already been imprisoned for almost 10 years by the time Making a Murderer aired, but the series drew national attention to their cases. The filmmakers cast doubt on the manner in which both cases was prosecuted, and the show strongly suggests that the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office may have framed Avery for the murder. The sheriff's office denies all such allegations. Before the Halbach murder, Avery had spent 18 years in prison on an unrelated sexual assault charge, but was subsequently exonerated by DNA evidence.
Dassey, Avery's cousin, was convicted as an accessory to Halbach's murder. At the age of 16, he confessed to having assisted Avery in the killing of Halbach, but many took issue with the manner in which investigators obtained that confession. For one, he wasn't a legal adult at the time. Moreover, Dassey's own attorney, Len Kachinsky, didn't show up to accompany Dassey during the interrogation; for this, Kachinsky was removed from the case, but Dassey's taped confession was not. Perhaps most relevantly, Dassey's IQ is reportedly between 69 and 73, and 70 is considered the cutoff for intellectual disability.
As it stands now, both Avery and Dassey are still in prison, but the two men both stand a shot at being released. Making a Murderer may be a year old, but make no mistake: These cases are far from over.
Image: Netflix/Making A Murderer