Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Wisconsin pardon board denies Brendan Dassey’s clemency application

By Jim Hagerty

MADISON, Wis.- “Making a Murderer” subject Brendan Dassey will not be granted a pardon or commutation of his life sentence for his role in the 2005 death of Teresa Halbach, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ prison advisory board said in a letter. 

According to the letter, dated Dec. 17, Dassey does not qualify for a pardon. 

“Unfortunately, we are unable to consider your application for pardon because you do not meet one or more of the required eligibility conditions,” the writing states. “Specifically, you are currently ineligible because: It has not been at least five (5) years since you completed your entire sentence for the conviction you want to be pardoned. You are currently required to register as a sex offender under Wis. Stat. § 301.45.”

Filed in October by attorneys Lara Nirider and Steven Drizin, the clemency petition claims Dassey, now 30, was psychologically coerced by police and misrepresented by his attorneys, including Len Kachinsky, leading to his 2007 conviction.

Dassey was found guilty of murder, sexual assault and mutilating a corpse. He’s eligible for parole in 2048. His uncle, Steven Avery, is serving life without. They were tried separately.

Dassey’s lawyers also asked Evers to consider commuting their client’s sentence if a pardon was not an option. The governor’s office, however, says he is not considering requests for commutation.

“Had the board reviewed Brendan’s petition on its merits, it would have seen what more than 250 national experts–and millions of ordinary people around the globe–see: a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Nirider and Drizin said in a statement.

The death of Teresa Halbach

Twenty-five-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach was reported missing by her mother on Nov. 3, 2005, three days after she visited Steven Avery’s property to take a picture of a van his sister was selling. 

After learning the Avery property was one of Halbach’s last stop on Oct. 31, police began questioning him about her whereabouts. Halbach’s Toyota RAV4, the vehicle’s key, her personal belongings and her charred remains were later found on Avery’s property. A bullet fragment containing Halbach’s DNA was retrieved from Avery’s garage. His blood was found in her vehicle. 

Read the letter

Read the clemency petition

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