During the first season of Netflix's extremely popular Making a Murderer, viewers watched in dismay as defendant Brendan Dassey was pummeled by the prosecution for murder and sexual assault charges. With a second season of the series greenlit by Netflix, viewers have been anticipating the payoff of knowing more about Dassey's fate, but a federal judge on Friday overturned Dassey's charges, and Netflix producers weren't there to catch the moment.
According to the New York Times, 26-year-old Dassey must be released from prison within 90 days unless a new trial is scheduled. Dassey was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 after being convicted of participating in the murder and sexual assault of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. The first season of the Netflix series showed that Dassey was questioned without a lawyer or parent present when he was 16 years old, as well as suggested he was coerced into a confession and that his lawyer may have cut a deal with the prosecution.
In the 91-page court order, Judge William E. Duffin wrote, "The investigators repeatedly claimed to already know what happened on October 31 and assured Dassey that he had nothing to worry about. These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments."
According to a report on TMZ, the judge gave no warning of his decision, which left Netflix producers in the dust when the news broke. While there really was no way to know when the judge would announce the decision, Making a Murderer producers are nevertheless scrambling to recreate the moment and give us some gripping content for the second season. With the new decision, it seems that viewers who sympathized with Dassey may get the payoff they wanted but didn't think they would get.
The court order on Friday did not affect Steven Avery, Dassey's uncle who was also convicted of murder and sentenced to prison, so the second season may focus on that element of the case.