Kim Kardashian West Pushes For Clemency for Brendan Dassey - NBC New York

Kim Kardashian West Pushes For Clemency for Brendan Dassey

Dassey is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree homicide, second-degree sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse following the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach

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    NEWSLETTERS

    'Making a Murderer': Attorneys for Dassey Ask for Clemency

    Attorneys for "Making a Murderer" subject Brendan Dassey have filed a petition for clemency in his case, asking the governor of Wisconsin to pardon or commute his sentence "on the basis of actual innocence and his extreme sentence." NBC 5’s Lauren Petty has the details.

    (Published Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019)

    Brendan Dassey's case has made national headlines since it was featured in the hit Netflix docu-series "Making a Murderer," but he may have just gotten his most high-profile supporter. 

    Kim Kardashian West, who has successfully pushed for pardons and commutations at the White House, is now taking her clout to Wisconsin. 

    Kardashian West tweeted to her 62 million followers Wednesday, urging them to tune into an episode of "Wrongful Conviction," featuring an interview with Dassey and his attorney Laura Nirider, and included a link to a website called "Bring Brendan Home."

    She later tweeted a plea to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, asking him to read a handwritten letter written by Dassey. 

    The letter from Dassey to Evers is a list of things Dassey wrote about himself "for you to get to know me." It lists things like his favorite drink is Orange Crush, he likes Doritos and Funyuns, his favorite season is fall and more. 

    It ends by asking Evers for a pardon "because I am innocent and want to go home." 

    "If I would get to go home, I would like to get a job involving video games," he writes. "I would like to help take care of my mom and one day have a son and daughter of my own. I would name my daughter Grace and my son Mizar which is the name of a star in the big dipper." 

    The tweets from Kardashian West come as attorneys for the "Making a Murderer" subject have filed a petition for clemency in his case, asking Evers to pardon or commute his sentence "on the basis of actual innocence and his extreme sentence." 

    (Read the full petition here)

    Dassey is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree homicide, second-degree sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse following the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. His uncle, Steven Avery, is also serving a life sentence for the crime.

    Kardashian West successfully lobbied Trump to grant clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother who was serving a life sentence without parole for drug offenses. She has also been studying law under attorneys Jessica Jackson and Erin Haney of the criminal justice reform group #cut50. 

    Nirider and fellow attorney Steven Drizin, both with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University, argued Dassey was a 16-year-old high school "special education student with no criminal history" at the time of his confession to the crime. He has an IQ of 74, and a speech-language function in the bottom percentile, they said. 

    "After undergoing four police interrogations in 48 hours, he found himself charged with involvement in one of the highest-profile homicides in Wisconsin history – and, subsequently, sentenced to life in prison – based on a videotaped confession about which state and federal judges, national police authorities, prosecutorial groups, and psychological experts have since expressed the gravest doubts," they wrote in their petition. "Indeed, his confession is disproven by the physical evidence found at the crime scene, including DNA. The confession is also marked by Brendan’s utter inability to describe accurately the method by which Ms. Halbach had been killed until he was told by police that she had been shot in the head. And it is punctuated by Brendan’s staggeringly guileless requests to go back to school even after agreeing to confess to murder." 

    The petition to Evers is the latest attempt at clearing Dassey in the case, which has been closely followed by Netflix in multiple seasons of "Making a Murderer."  

    The series followed Avery and Dassey as they try to overturn their convictions. Avery had argued that his conviction was based on planted evidence and false testimony.

    The series spawned conjecture about the pair's innocence, but those who worked on the cases accused the filmmakers of leaving out key pieces of evidence and presenting a biased view of what happened.

    Previously, a federal judge in Milwaukee overturned Dassey's conviction, but several legal proceedings later, an appeals court kept Dassey behind bars and the Supreme Court declined to weigh in on the controversial case. 

    "Like no other case in this State, and indeed few around the globe, the case of Brendan Dassey cries out for relief. Seeking clemency from the Governor is now one of the last remaining legal options available to him," the 26-page  petition filed Wednesday reads.

    In a press conference Wednesday, attorneys, joined by a large group of experts and advocates, described the many issues they saw in Dassey's confession.

    "From the first interrogation through the last these investigators told Brendan they were not cops - they were more like father figures or friends," Drizin said. "They threatened him by telling him that the district attorney’s office was ready to charge him with a crime or a cover-up of a crime."

    They argued the confession was coerced. 

    "He actually believed that he would be set free if he just told police what they wanted to hear," Drizin said, adding "true confessors don’t need help with their narratives." 

    Earlier this year, Avery won a motion to appeal his case and have it re-examined by a Wisconsin court. 

    Since then, a reward has been offered for information on the case and a convicted murderer behind bars wrote a handwritten confession (read it here) that attorneys believe was simply an attempt to get money. 

    Both Avery and Dassey are still fighting for freedom.