Brendan Dassey May Deserve a New Trial — But Here's Why That's Not a Sure Thing

Sue Pischke/AP

Netflix's Making a Murder, a documentary series which explores the nuances of a murder trial and at least one wrongful conviction, has spurred an outpouring of support for the show's key subject, Steven Avery. Yet a second subject whose actions are core to the story is Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey. Many who've taken an interest in Nextlix's new series are clamoring for justice for what they believe to be major failings within the justice system, and they are taking aim at law enforcement in Avery and Dassy's hometown, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. 

Dassy, now 26, is currently convicted on three charges and is serving his sentence at the Green Bay Correctional Facility in Green Bay, Wisconsin, according to Bustle. Dassey was convicted in 2007 in the case of Teresa Halbach's murder and charged with homicide, mutilation of a corpse, a first-degree charges, and sexual assault in the second degree, according to the Associated Press

Dassy was 17 at the time of his conviction, and he was sentenced to life in prison. The AP reports that the prosecution in Dassey's case say the teenager was "ready and willing to assist" in his uncle's case. 

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What's in a number? Vulture reports that Dassey's IQ is in the 69 to 73 rage, which is borderline intellectually challenged. Some argue that, in confessing guilt to law enforcement officials of the charges against him, Dassey was unable to fully comprehend the consequences that confessional would invite. Others argue that the prosecution acted wrongfully during Dassey's interrogation process, particularly taking issue with the fact that no lawyer was present at the time of Dassey's interrogation. 

The question that remains is whether or not Dassey will be granted an appeal, and if so, whether or not his jury would exonerate him in any supposed retrial.

Everyone and their mother is holding out hope for justice, and even the hacktivist organization Anonymous has stepped up to help garner support for the cause. Together, Dassey's family and Anonymous, who in recent months has also come out swinging agains the Islamic State group, or ISIS, and Republican presidential hopeful and frontrunner Donald Trump, have erected a website to raise money that will go toward supporting the family as they take on the fiscal burden of furthering their case, TMZ reported. 

Is a pardon possible? Yet others are calling for justice from on high, and are pushing for a presidential pardon of Avery and Dassey's convictions. A White House petition for Avery and Dassey's pardon, which was published on Dec. 20 reads, "Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey should be given a full pardon by President Obama for their wrongful conviction in the connection to the murder of Teresa Halbach."

"Based on the evidence in the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, the justice system embarrassingly failed both men, completely ruining their entire lives. There is clear evidence that the Manitowoc County sheriff's department used improper methods to convict both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey."

The petition gained enough support that the White House was prompted to respond.

"Under the Constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the President," the White House's response to the petition stated. "However, the president cannot pardon a state criminal offense."

An appeal in Dassey's case was rejected in 2013, according to Bustle, and in 2014, the convicted suspect's defense brought the case to federal court. The decision on that appeal is still pending. And while a retrial is not altogether impossible, if a history of public interest in these types of controversial cases is any indication of what's to come for Dassey (think: Serial subject Adnan Syed's ongoing imprisonment) these things can take time. 

Dan Powers/AP