Lead Steven Avery investigator, Tom Fassbender, speaks for first time on Dateline NBC

Fassbender: "We just tried to get at the truth"
Posted at 12:09 PM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 13:46:14-05

Much has been written and discussed about the Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey case since the release of the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer,” but one voice has been quiet until now — co-lead investigator Tom Fassbender.

Fassbender breaks his silence with his first-ever television interview with Dateline NBC, Friday at 9 p.m.

Fassbender responds to allegations that investigators coerced Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, into making a false confession.

Dassey and his uncle, Avery, were convicted of killing photographer Teresa Halbach. 

“I finally realized that someone needed to bring forward the truth,” Fassbender said in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Canning.

A federal judge ruled in August that the confession was involuntary, overturned the conviction, and ordered Dassey released.

The state appealed the ruling and arguments were heard in a Chicago courtroom this week. A decision could take several months. 

Fassbender was one of the investigators that helped extract a confession from the then-teenaged Dassey.

“It’s easy to armchair quarterback,” Fassbender said. “We didn’t try to manipulate Brendan. We just tried to get at the truth. And I don’t believe it was a false confession. Are there parts of it that he may have not done, I don’t know … I just don’t know.”

Dassey’s attorney, Laura Nirider, believes the truth is starting to come out.

“Those officers wanted that information in the worst way. They got it in the worst way. By feeding to straight to Brendan Dassey.”

Fassbender attempts to put to rest any suspicion that evidence was planted in the case.

“I never absolutely saw that, I never saw that from anyone in Manitowoc County. I could go on and on about the planting of evidence and how absurd it is,” Fassbender said.

The Dateline segment also promises rarely seen interrogation video and interviews with key players in the case.

Ken Kratz, the other investigator in the case, is scheduled to release a book called “Avery” on Tuesday, and is also pushing back against any idea that Avery and Dassey were framed.

“The case against Steven Avery is, and was, presented very very well,” Kratz said.

Avery’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner, says she hopes to have test results back within weeks that will help exonerate her client.

Canning says there’s one detail that will be revealed in the segment that made her feel differently about the case.

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