‘Making a Murderer’: Wisconsin Governor Declines to Pardon Brendan Dassey
Making a Murderer subject Brendan Dassey’s “best shot” at a release from prison has been denied after Wisconsin governor Tony Evers declined a request to pardon him. The Pardon Advisory Board notified Dassey and his attorneys of the governor’s decision this week.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to consider your application for pardon because you do not meet one or more of the required eligibility conditions,” the Pardon Advisory Board wrote (via NBC15). “In addition, the governor is not considering requests for commutation.”
In October, the legal team for Dassey — one of the two men convicted and serving a life sentence for the murder featured in the Netflix docuseries — would file a petition for executive clemency with first-term Democratic governor Evers after exhausting all other legal options; Evers restarted Wisconsin’s pardons board after eight years of inactivity under the previous governor Scott Walker.
“We’re filing a petition for executive clemency with Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin,” Dassey’s lawyers Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin in October. “This is his best shot, and the moment is now. The moment is now for Brendan to come home.” Dassey also wrote a handwritten note to Evers, “I am innocent and want to go home.”
Despite the latest legal setback, Dassey “is not giving up hope,” his legal team said in a statement after Evers’ pardon denial, adding that “although the Pardon Advisory Board has stated that it will not consider commutations, Governor Evers is not bound by those rules.”
Today, only five days before Christmas, the Wisconsin Pardon Advisory Board chose to reject Brendan Dassey’s clemency petition in an unsigned form letter, without reviewing the petition on the merits. Statement attached. pic.twitter.com/sXzuhRRXXj
— Laura Nirider (@LauraNirider) December 20, 2019
“We will continue to work, respectfully but relentlessly, towards the day when this governor recognizes in Brendan Dassey the gentle, cheerful, and kind human being whom we have known for twelve years,” Dassey’s attorneys added. “A good teacher never forgets his most vulnerable students; a good Governor never forgets his most vulnerable citizens.”
In December 2017, an appeals court upheld Dassey’s conviction following a long legal battle that began in August 2016, when a judge ruled that the then-16-year-old “intellectually limited” Dassey was coerced into confessing his role in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.
In June 2017, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago affirmed that August 2016, but the state of Wisconsin requested that seven members of that court hear the appeal; the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately ruled that Dassey’s confession was not coerced.
The U.S. Supreme Court also declined to hear Dassey’s appeal, leaving Evers’ pardon as one of the final paths toward freedom; under his initial sentence, Dassey isn’t up for parole for another 30 years.