Wisconsin Governor Finds Brendan Dassey Ineligible for Pardon

Brendan Dassey (Wisconsin Department of Corrections)Brendan Dassey (Wisconsin Department of Corrections)

Wisconsin’s new governor will not consider a pardon for one of the two men convicted in a 2005 murder whose case and pleas for exoneration were made famous in the 2015 Netflix series “Making a Murderer.”

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The Pardon Advisory Board of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers sent a letter Tuesday to 30-year-old Brendan Dassey and his Chicago-based attorneys indicating it will not grant him a pardon or commute his life sentence because he is ineligible for such action.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to consider your application for pardon because you do not meet one or more of the required eligibility condition,” the board wrote in a one-page letter to Dassey and Laura Nirider, an attorney with Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions.

The letter goes on to state that Dassey is ineligible for a pardon for two reasons: it hasn’t been five years since he completed his sentence and he is currently a registered sex offender.


The native of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, was 16 years old when he confessed to assisting his uncle, Steven Avery, with the rape and murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach at their family property in 2005. Dassey’s attorneys say no physical evidence ever tied him to Halbach’s rape and murder, but he was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison.

Dassey had a below-average IQ score and confessed only after several hours of interrogation without a parent or lawyer by his side, according to his attorneys. Nirider had previously said investigators fed her client facts to fit their theory of the crime and told him everything would be OK if he confessed.

Nirider did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

Dassey’s conviction was briefly overturned in 2016 – a decision that was upheld the following year by a three-judge panel in the Seventh District Court of Appeals. But following a challenge by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the full seven-member appeals court voted 4-3 to uphold the conviction.

In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Dassey’s appeal.

Evers, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Scott Walker in 2018. His state webpage indicates that a pardon denial or finding of ineligibility cannot be appealed. But a request can be re-filed after 18 months.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431


Related stories:

US Supreme Court Won’t Hear Dassey Appeal in ‘Making a Murderer’ Case

State Appeals Brendan Dassey’s Overturned Conviction

Attorney for Brendan Dassey of ‘Making a Murderer’ on Overturned Conviction

What Leads to False Confessions? ‘Making a Murderer’ Attorneys Weigh In

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