Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Friday denied the pardon request of a man convicted as a teen in the rape and murder of Theresa Halbach, whose slaying is at the center of a hit Netflix docuseries examining whether those convicted in the 2005 killing actually carried out the brutal crime.
In a letter from the Governor’s office and Parole Advisory Board for Wisconsin, officials said that Brendan Dassey does not meet conditions required to be eligible for an early release, citing reasons including that he has not yet finished his sentence and has so far failed to register as a sex offender.
The convicted killer was only 16 when he confessed to Wisconsin authorities that he helped his uncle, Steve Avery, rape and murder Halbach in Manitowoc County before burning her body in a bonfire. Both men are currently serving life sentences in connection with the photographer’s murder.
Dassey’s legal team has long maintained their client, who is intellectually disabled, was manipulated by law enforcement and forced into giving a phony confession.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year – without comment – said they would not consider Dassey’s appeal for his conviction, noting that he could request another trial should a judge agree there is new evidence that warrants the proceeding.
The 30-year-old inmate in October filed an official request for pardon or commutation.
“Brendan Dassey was a sixteen-year-old, intellectually disabled child when he was taken from his school and subjected to a uniquely and profoundly flawed process,” it reads.
“That process rightly sought justice for Teresa Halbach, but it wrongly took a confused child’s freedom in payment for her loss. Such a debt can never be justly repaid with the currency of innocence.”
Halbach disappeared on Oct. 31, 2005 following an appointment with Avery at his home, located on the grounds of Auto Salvage. He reached out with the hopes that she’d photograph his sister’s minivan, which he intended to sell online.
Authorities later found her vehicle hidden on the property with blood inside, which they matched to Avery’s DNA. Investigators also discovered charred bone fragments in a pit near Avery’s home, which were later identified as belonging to Halbach.
Dassey was convicted following a trial in 2007 despite testifying that his confession was “made up.” Wisconsin prosecutors have long held his confession was voluntary and have noted his mother granted them permission to speak with him.
Controversy surrounding both Dassey and Avery’s conviction serves as the foundation for the hit Netlfix series, “Making a Murderer,” which premiered on the streaming platform in 2016. The 10-episode series delves into theories that Avery and his nephew may have been set up for Halcbach’s murder.