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Gov. Evers to decide future of Brendan Dassey with clemency petition

Posted at 7:51 PM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 20:51:51-04

MADISON -- Brendan Dassey's legal team is filing a petition for clemency to Gov. Tony Evers.

Dassey is currently serving a life sentence for his conviction in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach of Manitowoc County. Dassey was 16 at the time, and has argued for years that investigators coerced him into a confession. He currently is not eligible for parole until 2048. Dassey will be 59 years old at that time.

Several members of Dassey's defense team spoke about why his petition for clemency should be granted.

"The courts have been unable to deliver justice for him," Laura Nirider, one of Dassey's attorneys said. "We now ask Governor Evers to deliver that justice and bring Brendan home."

Nirider is also co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, and says they are asking for a pardon or commutation "on the basis of actual innocence and his extreme sentence."

In essence, Evers could grant Dassey his immediate freedom while convictions would stay on his record.

"We're hopeful Gov. Evers, when he looks at Brendan, when he hears the support of organizations like the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, when he hears disability experts speak about Brendan's Special Education history, he'll recognize the vulnerabilities Brendan brought to that interrogation room," Nirider said.

Dassey's team says the only evidence used against him in court was his coerced confession. They say police fed Dassey answers and, because of his low IQ and mental capacity, he went along with what they said because he believed he could leave if he told them what they wanted to hear.

"It gave me the most distaste," David Thompson, a police trainer said. "The most gut sickness you have from an interrogation. Any time you have an innocent person convicted of a crime they didn't commit, that has to be defined as the worst interrogation you've seen."

Thompson says he uses Dassey's interrogation video as an example of what police should not do in these situations.

Gov. Evers office was not available for an interview but said, "Our office received these materials today. We give every pardon application careful review and consideration."

According to the Governor's Pardon Advisory Board, it could be several months or more than a year before Dassey's case is reviewed because they review them roughly in the order they're received. The controversial case and lengthy trial gained international attention when Netflix released "Making a Murderer" in 2015, a documentary that raised questions about the conviction of Dassey and Avery.

Avery was also convicted of multiple crimes, including first-degree intentional homicide.

Dassey also took part in a 'Wrongful Conviction' podcast.