UPDATE: A federal judge announced on Monday, November 14th, that Brendan Dassey’s motion for release has been granted. It’s unclear when he will be freed, though the judge amended restrictions on his release, including the requirement to stay in the Eastern District of Wisconsin and a ban on communicating with his uncle Steven Avery or the family of victim Teresa Halbach.
The legal team for Making a Murderer subject Brendan Dassey filed a motion Wednesday requesting that their client be released from prison while awaiting the outcome of the state’s appeal of Dassey’s overturned conviction.
“On September 14, 2016, we filed a motion asking the Court to release Brendan on bond during the State of Wisconsin’s appeal,” Dassey’s lawyers at the Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth said in a statement (via Buzzfeed).
“We will not be publicly commenting on this motion at this time. As in the past, we ask Brendan’s supporters to refrain from contacting the judge or prosecutors about this motion. As always, Brendan, his family, and his attorneys remain grateful for your support.”
In August, a federal judge in Milwaukee surprised both Dassey’s legal team and Making a Murderer filmmakers by ordering that Dassey’s conviction for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach be overturned. Wisconsin prosecutors had 90 days to appeal federal magistrate judge William E. Duffin’s decision, which they did on September 9th.
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As a result of the appeal, Dassey was ordered to remain behind bars until the appeal is heard. However, in the 48-page motion, Dassey’s lawyers argue for their client’s immediate release, saying that their client is not a flight risk, that he can’t leave the state or the country (he doesn’t have a drivers license or passport) and that his immediate family now lives in the vicinity of Manitowoc County.
Dassey’s lawyers also point at his nearly spotless behavioral record during his decade-long stint in prison as another reason why Dassey should be released during appeal process. Only twice was Dassey written up for minor infractions: Once for leaving his cell without permission to illegally obtain contraband – five ramen packets – because “I was hungry,” and another incident involving scotch tape, a chessboard and using prison forms to keep score.
The motion also mapped out how Dassey’s legal team would help assimilate the now-26-year-old back into society; Dassey has been behind bars since the age of 17.
“Counsel has identified an arrangement that would allow Petitioner to spend the initial one to three months of his release on bond living in a family-owned trailer with his mother in rural northeast Wisconsin,” Dassey’s attorneys wrote.
“By proposing to release Brendan to a private location outside Manitowoc County, counsel seeks to ensure that Petitioner’s release would proceed in a way that minimizes disruption for the Manitowoc community, the Halbach family, and Petitioner. Following this period of initial adjustment, counsel proposes that Brendan relocate to a rental apartment in Brown County, Wisconsin, that would be initially paid for by his mother and stepfather. At that time, he would begin participating in educational, vocational, and therapeutic services in the Brown County area as appropriate.”