Brendan Dassey, a convicted killer featured in the Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer, is seeking clemency after spending more than a decade behind bars. According to the petition, Dassey's legal team is asking the governor to grant the 29-year-old a pardon or commutation of sentence to time served.
"We’re filing a petition for executive clemency with Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin," Dassey's attorney Laura Nirider told CBS News on Wednesday. "This is his best shot, and the moment is now. The moment is now for Brendan to come home."
When he was 16 years old, Dassey confessed to his role in the 2005 rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. He and his uncle, Steven Avery, were both convicted of Halbach's murder and sentenced to life in prison; however, attorneys have argued that Dassey, who is described as "intellectually impaired," was coerced into confessing his involvement in the crime.
"When Brendan Dassey was in special education, he was in 10th grade, he required an aide to sit next to him in the classroom to help him understand the teachers' spoken sentences…" Nirider told CBS News. "Then shift him into the interrogation room where he was barraged with 1,500 questions over 3.5 hours […] You don't have to be a lawyer to understand how an interrogation like that would overwhelm someone like Brendan Dassey."
In 2016, about a year after Making a Murderer's debut, a federal judge overturned Dassey's conviction after ruling his confession was coerced. After several proceedings, an appeals court ultimately upheld the conviction and ruled to keep Dassey behind bars. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case.
Gov. Evers, who assumed office in early 2019, has said he will not consider commutations, and that in order to be eligible for a pardon, applicants are required to have completed their prison sentence. But on Wednesday, the Democratic lawmaker insisted his team will consider Dassey's request.
"We’ll deal with it just like we do any communication we receive," Evers told the Associated Press. "We give consideration to all sorts of things that we reject. Whether there’s criteria or not, we’ll consider it and respond back to them."