First of all, I don’t know if Steven Avery killed Teresa Halbach. I’m not sure we ever will know who brutally took her life in 2005. I’m not one of those who immediately jumped on the “Avery is Innocent” bandwagon after watching the entire Netflix Docudrama “Making A Murderer”. Too many questions remain unanswered.
But what I did see in the hours and hours I invested in watching that sad tale is how flawed the criminal justice system can be. Particularly when it comes to dealing with people like Brendan Dassey. And even after ten years of imprisonment after being convicted of helping his uncle kill Halbach, I’m saddened to think that Dassey’s worst days may still be ahead.
Last Friday a Federal Judge overturned Dassey’s conviction. The judge didn’t say Dassey was innocent; the judge didn’t say Dassey should immediately be released. What the judge did say was that the so-called “confession” the cops bullied out of Dassey was bogus.
And since Dassey’s conviction was as a result of this bogus “confession”, those who might appeal the Federal Judge’s ruling have nothing to stand on. There’s no evidence that connects Dassey with the murder of Halbach. None. No photos, no DNA, no nothing.
Those who saw the interrogation of Dassey by watching “Making A Murderer” saw a kid, a 16-year-old special ed student apparently without the mental faculty to be scared, telling the cops what they wanted to hear – after repeatedly asking for his mother to be present. Dassey had no idea what was at stake here, and any reasonable person watching that horrible browbeating would conclude that the kid wanted his mom and would say anything the cops wanted to hear, in many cases, just parroting back the words they essentially put in his mouth.
Then, after enduring that disgusting interrogation, Dassey’s first lawyer, Len Kachinsky, threw his client under the bus and essentially functioned as an agent for the prosecution. That much was also clearly apparent to anyone who watched the Netflix series. Kachinsy was working for the prosecution, not for his client.
The Federal Judge’s ruling can be appealed within 90 days, and I suspect we’ll know shortly whether that’s going to happen or not. It’s also a reasonable assumption that an appeal will fail, barring any remarkable new evidence, and that Dassey will be released from prison.
That’s why I say his worst days may be yet to come.
He will be released with no education, no training, no real job prospects, and extremely limited social services support. He will, in no way, be prepared to navigate life as a 26-year-old man. His mom will not be able to provide the array of psychological and other rehabilitative services her son will need.
He certainly didn’t get any such help in prison. And he won’t get it when he’s released.