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What to Know About Making a Murderer‘s Brendan Dassey Going Free

3 minute read

One of two men convicted for the 2005 murder of a young woman and profiled on Netflix’s Making A Murderer will go free in as soon as 90 days. A federal judge overturned Brendan Dassey’s conviction in Milwaukee on Friday. Here are five things to know about the story that captivated and divided the country earlier this year.

Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, rocketed to fame when Netflix released Making a Murderer

For a few weeks in early 2016, Dassey and Avery were the subject of intense debate over whether they murdered 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. The show contended police officers charged the Wisconsin men for Halbach’s murder after Avery was exonerated for a sexual assault he did not commit. While other shows that detail the experiences of alleged criminals do not necessarily conclude if they are guilty or not, many said Making A Murderer left viewers feeling Dassey and Avery were innocent.

Making a Murderer omitted key facts

The show was made over the course of 10 years before its release in December 2015. To condense years of material into 10 episodes, the shows creators left out some information, including facts law enforcement officials argue were key to the conviction of Dassey and Avery. Among facts omitted from the series: evidence that Avery knew Halbach, his DNA was found on her car and some jurors in the case had ties to the local sheriff’s department.

Thousands of people signed petitions calling for Dassey and Avery to be freed

More than 129,000 people signed a petition calling on President Obama to pardon the two men, while another petition drew more than 530,000 signatures. The White House responded by saying Obama does not have the power to pardon a state criminal offense. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who could pardon Dassey and Avery, said he would not interfere in the judicial process.

The series was not a documentary

As TIME’s TV critic Daniel D’Addario wrote at the time, Making A Murderer was not intended to be a balanced, factual accounting of Avery and Dassey’s case. It was “true crime entertainment.”

“The show’s capaciousness makes the viewer feel both accomplished simply for having watched and like the lucky recipient of all the information there possibly could be to know about Steven Avery,” D’Addario wrote, also noting that the show left out key information to tell its story. Last month, Netflix announced there will be a second season of the show.

Avery is still in prison

As of now, Avery is still serving a life sentence for Halbach’s murder. He filed a petition for appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in January.

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