CHICAGO – The state of Wisconsin has asked the full Seventh Circuit of Appeals to keep Brendan Dassey in prison while it appeals a ruling overturning his conviction for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.
Last week, federal judges in Chicago ruled 2-1 to uphold the decision vacating his conviction. After that, Dassey’s attorneys asked for his release pending any state appeal.
In the motion filed Monday afternoon, June 26th, the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office argued Dassey should stay incarcerated.
“This Court should deny the motion to lift the stay. If, however, this Court chooses to dissolve the stay, the State respectfully requests that any such order not take effect until the en banc court has the full opportunity to rule on a motion by the State to reinstate the stay pending resolution of this appeal,” the state wrote.
The state disagrees with Dassey’s attorneys argument that circumstances have substantially changed.
“Indeed, the only changed circumstance that Dassey can point to is the Merits Panel’s decision itself. But, of course, that sharply divided decision does not “resol[ve] this appeal,” Dkt. 22:2, as the State still has the right to petition for en banc review, and if it cannot obtain relief en banc, to seek Supreme Court review. The State intends to begin this process promptly, and will petition for en banc review within the 14-day window provided by this Court’s rules. Respect for the en banc (and possible Supreme Court) process, the Motions Panel’s well-considered stay decision, the powerful dissenting opinion from the Merits Panel’s holding, and the conclusion by a Wisconsin jury that Dassey committed heinous crimes all strongly militate against lifting the stay,” the state wrote.
It is not known how long it will take for the court to rule on the release request.
Dassey's attorneys announced Friday, June 23rd they filed a motion that Dassey be released immediately. The state had until 5:00 p.m. Monday to reply.
On Thursday, June 22nd the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by a judge to overturn Dassey's conviction. The three-judge panel said Dassey was coerced into confessing and should be released from prison.
Dassey's attorney, Steven Drizin, posted to Twitter Thursday indicating the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by Judge Duffin -- 2-1.
Drizin said "This round goes to Brendan Dassey 2-1," with Judge Hamilton dissenting.
The final judgement issued by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals says:
"The decision of the district court is affirmed, with costs, in all respects. The writ of habeas corpus is granted unless the State of Wisconsin elects to retry Dassey within 90 days of issuance of this court's final mandate, or the Supreme Court's final mandate. The above is in accordance with the decision of this court entered on this date."
A spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Justice issued this statement after the 7th Circuit's ruling:
"We are evaluating the 2-1 decision from the court. We anticipate seeking review by the entire 7th Circuit or the United States Supreme Court and hope that the erroneous decision will be reversed. We continue to send our condolences to the Halbach family as they have to suffer through another attempt by Mr. Dassey to re-litigate his guilty verdict and sentence."
Duffin on November 14th ordered the release of Dassey, ruling he be freed under the supervision of the US Probation Office after overturning his confession in August -- saying investigators coerced Dassey, who was 16 at the time, and suffered from cognitive problems, into confessing.
The state appealed that ruling.
Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery are each serving life sentences for the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2005. The case gained international attention after the release of "Making a Murderer" on Netflix.