Dassey denied release from prison; attorneys say “the fight goes on”

Brendan Dassey DOC photo
Dept of Corrections photo

PORTAGE, Wis. (WBAY) – “The fight goes on.” That’s the message from Brendan Dassey’s attorneys after an appeals court on Thursday denied his release from prison.

“The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Brendan Dassey must stay in prison until his appeal is resolved. We are disappointed more than words can say. The fight goes on,” reads a statement from the Center from Wrongful Convictions of Youth. CWCY is part of the legal team helping the “Making a Murderer” subject with his appeal.

Dassey was slated to be released from the prison no later than 8 o’clock Friday night. But just before noon Thursday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals responded to an emergency motion filed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice a day earlier, stopping Dassey’s release.

“It is ordered that the appellant’s motion to stay is granted. The district court’s order releasing appellee Brendan Dassey is stayed pending resolution of this appeal,” reads the decision.

The three-judge panel out of Chicago didn’t offer an opinion on why it issued the stay, it simply granted it.

This is the same court that will ultimately decide whether to overturn Judge William Duffin’s ruling in August that overturned Dassey’s conviction.

The appellate court is higher than the district court on which Judge Duffin serves, thus the Seventh Circuit decision stands.

Dassey’s cousin and family spokesperson Carla Chase reacted on social media by saying “words can’t express what we are feeling.”

On Facebook she added, “As everyone has heard, the state’s stay has been granted. I am at a loss of words right now besides no good ones. We knew there was always that chance but we need to have faith & be positive that in the near future Brendan will be coming home.”

When his family and supporters thought Dassey was going to be released from prison, they expected it to happen by Thanksgiving. Now they say they hope it will happen by Christmas.

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Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery are serving life sentences for the 2005 murder of freelance photographer Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc County.

The Netflix docu-series “Making A Murderer” has prompted a re-examination of the investigation and the convictions.

On Thursday Zellner tweeted a response to the court’s denial of Dassey’s release:

Earlier this year, Judge Duffin overturned Dassey’s conviction, saying his confession to investigators was coerced. The State of Wisconsin is appealing that ruling.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel argues that the state has a strong likelihood of success on appeal, that Dassey’s release would have irreparably harmed the state, that Dassey’s interests do not warrant a release, and that his release would harm the public interest.

The state argues that the federal court didn’t have the authority to issue the order for Dassey’s release, and it believed the higher court would reverse the decision, which is what happened Thursday.

The DOJ released this statement following the appeals court ruling:

“Moments ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted the State of Wisconsin’s motion to stay U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin’s order to release Mr. Brendan Dassey. Mr. Dassey will remain in prison pending the outcome of the appeal.”

The timeline now is the big question.

Federal court records show December deadlines for both sides to file paperwork in the appeal on Dassey’s overturned conviction.

What happens after that is still very much up in the air. There is no specific date for when a final opinion would be issued by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, but it could take months.

Meanwhile, Dassey’s uncle Steven Avery is appealing his conviction for Halbach’s murder. Since his trial, Avery has been adamant that he was framed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office.

Avery attorney Kathleen Zellner has said she’s pinned down testing that can determine the age of blood in Teresa Halbach’s car to determine if it was planted from a vial of Avery’s blood police had almost ten years earlier. Halbach’s vehicle was found on the Avery Salvage property following her disappearance on Oct. 31, 2005.

People all over the country have been keeping a close eye on the case, including those in Manitowoc County. The county executive says they’ll continue to be patient as the court system works this out, but he also reiterates that we can’t forget about Halbach and what her friends and family continue to go through.

“I presume it’s very hard on them,” said Manitowoc County Executive Bob Ziegelbauer. “The uncertainty as to the result of the legal process, and I think we all should think about the victim Teresa Halbach because that’s the real loss.”