Dean Strang: ‘Not surprised’ by Dassey’s overturned conviction
Steven Avery’s former attorney said he’s “not surprised” by a federal judge’s decision Friday to overturn a 2007 conviction that put Brendan Dassey behind bars for life.
In his decision, the judge said investigators made false promises to Dassey in their interrogation of the then-16-year-old, telling him “they already knew everything” and “he had nothing to worry about.” In a March 1, 2006, interview, Dassey confessed to helping Avery, his uncle, kill Teresa Halbach.
“I’ve watched all of Brendan Dassey’s interview, and even those who have only seen the excerpts of it on ‘Making a Murderer,’ I think fair-minded people look at that and say, ‘That’s not a voluntary confession,'” Strang said. “That’s not a kid who’s offering the details voluntarily and unaided by pretty manipulative police techniques.”
According to Strang, federal judges like to “stay in their lane” and rarely overturn state convictions, as they did in Dassey’s case Friday. Strang said he believes the state will appeal the decision. If it stands, Strang said re-trying Dassey would be very difficult without being able to use his March 2006 confession.
“That statement and its details – most of them suggested by the police – never have matched the indisputable physical facts in this case,” he said. “There’s little to nothing other than Brendan Dassey’s statement to support his conviction, and if the state were to retry him and have to do that without his statement… I think it would be a very difficult case for the state to try.”
Strang said while the case has no direct impact on Steven Avery’s own conviction, it could have implications.
“Once you get one court acknowledging the wrongfulness of a conviction, and the sky doesn’t fall and the world doesn’t end, other judges who may have been more timid may take heart and step up and do their duty, as well.”