On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that a federal appeals court in Chicago upheld an earlier ruling to overturn the murder conviction of Making A Murderer subject Brendan Dassey. The decision is a win for the team behind the Netflix docuseries, who heavily suggested that Dassey's confession was coerced, but it also raises a myriad of questions. Chief among them: Will Brendan Dassey get out of jail, and if so, when?
As with most legal proceedings, this one is a sensitive and complex process. Dassey previously told detectives that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill Teresa Halbach in the Avery family's Manitowoc County salvage yard in 2005. Both men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison, where they've remained for the last 10 years.
But Making A Murderer presented the argument that Dassey's interrogation was allegedly forceful and manipulative — a framework that a federal judge in Milwaukee upheld in August 2016. The ruling stated that the confession was allegedly improperly obtained due to Dassey's age (he was 16 at the time), intellectual deficits, and lack of adult present for his questioning, and that it was involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The Manitowoc County sheriff's department has consistently maintained that the interrogation was standard protocol and did not lead to a false confession. (Bustle has reached out to the Manitowoc County sheriff's department for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.)
Now, a three-judge federal appeals panel has affirmed the August ruling. According to WBAY, their decision reads:
Shortly after the news broke, Dassey's attorneys, Steven Drizin and Laura Nirider, wrote in a statement that they were "overjoyed for Brendan and his family" and looked forward to "working to secure his release from prison as soon as possible." (When Bustle reached out to the attorneys for comment, they directed us to the same statement.)
What lies ahead for Dassey is dependent on how the state of Wisconsin chooses to proceed. They currently have 90 days from the court's order to retry him, and state attorneys could also appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. A spokesperson for Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel told ABC News that they're "evaluating" the decision and intend to seek review.
If the state does proceed to challenge the ruling, it will mean another lengthy trial for Dassey. It's been 10 months since the Milwaukee judge initially overturned his conviction, and another case will likely fall into the same time frame. So while it's possible that Dassey will get out of prison, it probably won't be for quite some time, if ever.