Making A Murderer‘s Brendan Dassey received some excellent news earlier this month when a federal court threw out his conviction for the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach. But he’s not out of jail yet, and may not be for a while if the state of Wisconsin decides to appeal the ruling or retry Dassey. The state attorney general’s office has 80 days left to act, and here’s their first statement regarding what’s next.
“We are still examining all of the options,” Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schmiel said during a press conference Monday. “There are a number of directions this case can go and before we make a determination as to which option we’ll pursue, we are going to want to give Teresa Halbach’s family an opportunity to have some input. We’ve been in communication with them. We’ll continue to outline all the different options with them and the likelihood of our success on each one.”
As we mentioned before, there are really only three options for the state: let Dassey go, appeal the habeas corpus ruling that nullified his conviction, or hold a completely new trial. An appeal is the most likely move because it avoids the messiness of completely re-opening Brendan’s case. Instead, it simply asks another judge whether they agree with Judge William E. Duffin’s conclusion that Dassey’s motion meets the ridiculously high standard required for habeas corpus cases. In order for relief to be granted, “a state court’s decision must be not merely wrong but so wrong that no reasonable judge could have reached that decision.” Considering 99 percent of all such petitions fail, it’s actually somewhat surprising that Brendan Dassey got one judge to rule in his favor.
We don’t want to speculate on what the Halbach family’s thoughts on the matter are. During the trial, Teresa’s brother Mike seemed convinced that Brendan Dassey was involved in the murder … but then again, Penny Beerntsen felt the same way during Steven Avery’s original rape trial. Who knows if some of the family have investigated the case further or watched the controversial confession that eventually led to Dassey’s conviction being tossed. And even without that confession, do they still believe Brendan had a part in Teresa’s death?
So many questions, so few answers. But it sounds like Brendan Dassey’s fate is now at least partially in the hands of the Halbach family, whether they wanted to be dragged back into the case or not.