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Updated: Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013, 10:45 AM CST
Published : Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013, 7:54 AM CST
A state appeals court Wednesday denied Brendan Dassey's bid for a new trial in the murder of Teresa Halbach.
Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, were convicted for the October 2005 murder of Halbach at Avery's residence in Manitowoc County. Both are serving life prison terms.
In its ruling, the appeals court rejects four separate claims by Dassey.
"Brendan Dassey appeals from a judgment convicting him of first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree sexual assault, and mutilation of a corpse, all as party to a crime. He also appeals from the order denying his motion for postconviction relief. Dassey contends that his pre-trial and trial counsel provided ineffective assistance, that his confession was involuntary and that, because the jury did not hear evidence of the unreliability of his confession, the real controversy was not tried. He seeks a new trial and/or a new suppression hearing. We reject his arguments, deny the requested remedies, and affirm the judgment and order," the court wrote.
As for the claim that police coerced Dassey's confession, the court wrote: "The (trial) court concluded that Dassey's confession was voluntary and admissible. The court's findings are not clearly erroneous. Based on those findings, we also conclude that Dassey has not shown coercion."
As for the claim that Dassey's original lawyer had a conflict of interest and therefore Dassey should get a new trial, the court ruled: "(Attorney Len) Kachinsky was long gone before Dassey's trial or sentencing. Dassey has not convinced us that Kachinsky's actions amounted to an actual conflict and that Kachinsky's advocacy was adversely affected, such that it was detrimental to Dassey's interests. He is not entitled to a new trial or hearing."
The appeals court also rejected claims that the attorneys who handled the trial were ineffective. "Dassey next submits that the representation by successor counsel, Attorneys Mark Fremgen and Ray Edelstein, also was ineffective because they failed to present substantial evidence that his March 1 confession was unreliable, failed to retain an expert on coercive interrogation tactics, failed to present a part of his confession suggesting recantation, and, in closing argument, conceded his guilt to the corpse-mutilation charge. Once again, we disagree," the court wrote.
Finally, the court rejected a generic appeal for a new trial. "Lastly, Dassey asks us to reverse his conviction in the interest of justice, asserting that the real controversy-whether his March 1 confession was reliable evidence of his guilt-was not fully tried. We decline to use our discretionary power of reversal so that Dassey may take a different approach in a new trial when the defense that was presented was competent, if unsuccessful," the court wrote.
The appeals court also noted that the trial court's rejection of similar post-conviction motions were "soundly reasoned."