Brendan Dassey: The Power of Confession in Making a Murderer

Brendan Dassey interview

Brendan Dassey interview

Both mainstream media and social media are in the grips of the Netflix documentary, Making a Murderer. Everyone has an opinion on the guilt or innocence of Steven Avery with some calling loudly for his release.

The film has opened needed dialogue on the issue of wrongful convictions, as well as police corruption, prosecutorial misconduct, and the dynamics of a flawed justice system.

One of the key players in the documentary is Avery’s 16 year old nephew, Brendon Dassey,  described as having an IQ in the range of 70, borderline for being classified as intellectually disabled. Dassey was tried separately and also convicted in the murder of Teresa Halback.

Several scenes in Making a Murderer surround the video taped confessions of Brendon Dassey describing the horrific torture, rape and murder of Halback, his alleged participation at the instruction of his uncle, Steven Avery.

In one video we see the defense investigator who seemingly coached Dassey to admit his involvement and sign a document of his confession which he handed over to the police. Ordinarily, this is never done unless forced by the court.

Listening to phone conversations with his mother, it’s quite possible that Dassey’s confession was elicited by investigators and that he had little understanding of the consequences. Does the story he tells contain some thread of truth? Possibly so.  Transcript of Brendan Dassey interview

Is Brendan Dassey Telling the Truth?

Brendan Dassey in court

Brendan Dassey in court

Dassey’s narrative is, for the most part, one word answers to questions posed by investigators who threaten to walk out if he doesn’t tell the truth on more than one occasion.

For someone with cognitive difficulties the truth may not be so simple, and when accused of lying, or under pressure, truth gets mixed up with the intent to please. Dassey admits to being nervous, he admits that he lied and changed his story, and he admits to taking part in the crime.

However, it’s apparent that Dassey should have been accompanied by someone who understands those with intellectual difficulties, someone who could speak objectively to the questions and answers and offer an opinion to investigators as to what is, or is not truth, before considering his testimony as evidence. He was questioned without his attorney or parent present.

In a recent article by Attorney Dan Abrams at Law Newz he states, “The notion that an attorney sent a defense investigator to a jail to convince a 16-year-old client with a well below average IQ to confess without his mother present is beyond inexplicable.”

It’s shameful to think someone who is intellectually challenged would find compounded challenges in the justice system that would change everything in his future.

Making of a Murderer’s best attribute is revealing to the general public the many flaws within the current judicial system and creating a platform for discussing change.

Whether Avery and Dassey are guilty or innocent, there’s an abundance of shortcomings in the case.

celebratingManagement Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.

Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.  Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email


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Posted in Criminal Cases

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Members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
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investigating innocence, management resources, bill clutter, bob rahn, kim anklin
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