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Dassey v. Dittmann

877 F.3d 297 (2017)

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Dassey v. Dittmann

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

877 F.3d 297 (2017)

Facts

In 2005 Teresa Halbach was raped and murdered, and her corpse was mutilated. Brendan Dassey (defendant), a 16-year-old with mental limitations, told investigators that he saw Halbach with his uncle, Steven Avery, before her murder. On March 1, 2006, over the course of a three-hour interview, Dassey confessed to helping Avery rape and murder Halbach. During the interview, the investigators urged Dassey to tell the truth, explaining that his honesty would set him free. Dassey changed his story multiple times over the interview, and at times, Dassey seemed to be guessing. When Dassey would give conflicting, vague, or incomplete answers, the investigators would press him for additional details or ask follow-up questions. At times, Dassey would stick to his initial story, telling the investigators that their assumptions were incorrect. At no point in the interview did the investigators raise their voices or threaten Dassey. After his confession, Dassey was convicted of participating in Halbach’s rape and murder and in the mutilation of her corpse. Dassey appealed his conviction, arguing that his confession was involuntary. The Wisconsin state courts upheld his conviction, holding that his confession was voluntary. A federal district court reversed the state courts, holding that the state court decisions were unreasonable and that Dassey was entitled to a writ of habeas corpus. A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court. The Wisconsin state government (plaintiff) appealed, and the Seventh Circuit granted a hearing en banc.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hamilton, J.)

Dissent (Wood, C.J.)

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