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Dassey v. Dittmann

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

August 12, 2016

BRENDAN DASSEY, Petitioner
v.
MICHAEL A. DITTMANN, [1] Respondent.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. Magistrate Judge

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         A. The Initial Investigation

         Teresa Halbach, the oldest daughter of northeastern Wisconsin dairy farmers, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay in 2002. By the time she was 25-years-old she was running her own photography business. Halbach’s family and friends became concerned in early November 2005 after she had not been seen or heard from for a few days. Uncharacteristically she had not stopped by her photography studio and her voicemail was full. Family, friends, and law enforcement distributed thousands of missing person posters, scoured roadside ditches in case she had had an accident, and retraced her last known activities. Searchers learned that Halbach had been photographing vehicles for Auto Trader Magazine on October 31, 2005. After photographing vehicles at two residences that day, Halbach was scheduled to photograph a minivan that was for sale at the Avery Salvage Yard. Halbach had not been seen or heard from since.

         On Saturday, November 5, 2005, volunteer searchers, with the permission of the owners of the property, undertook a search of the Avery Salvage Yard. The salvage yard property was expansive, spanning 40 acres and containing roughly 4, 000 vehicles. Amidst the thousands of salvaged vehicles, partially covered by tree branches, fence posts, boxes, plywood, and auto parts, a pair of searchers found Halbach’s 1999 Toyota RAV4.

         As a result of this discovery, investigators obtained a search warrant for the entire salvage yard property, which encompassed roughly fifteen buildings and included residences of various members of the extended Avery family, garages, and other outbuildings. The search was extensive, involving many different agencies, dozens of law enforcement personnel, and dozens more volunteer firefighters, along with dive teams for the ponds and dogs trained to detect blood and human remains. The search lasted a week and covered not only all of the buildings but also each of the 4, 000 salvaged vehicles, some of which had been crushed and required specialized equipment to inspect.

         Steven Avery, a son of the owners of the salvage yard, lived in a residence on the property. Investigators recovered two firearms from a gun rack above Avery’s bed and a key to Halbach’s RAV4, found in Avery’s bedroom. In a burn barrel and a roughly four-foot by six-foot burn pit near Avery’s residence, investigators located charred human bone and tooth fragments. Also recovered from the burn areas were the burned remnants of electronics, a zipper, and rivets from a woman’s jeans. In a vehicle in the salvage yard a searcher found the license plates that had been on Halbach’s RAV4.

         Subsequent investigation determined that the recovered human remains were those of an adult female who was no more than 30-years-old. Analysis of the skull fragments determined that she had been shot twice in the head. DNA testing of tissue remaining on one of the bone fragments was consistent with Halbach’s DNA profile, with the chance that the DNA was from a source other than Halbach being one in a billion.

         Additionally, investigators determined that the burned electronics were from a mobile phone, personal organizer, and digital camera of the same makes and models that Halbach was known to have owned. Halbach was seen wearing jeans shortly before she arrived at the Avery property on October 31, and the rivets recovered from the burn area were from jeans of the same brand Halbach was known to own. Multiple witnesses reported seeing a large bonfire in the burn pit outside Avery’s residence on October 31.

         Forensic examination of Halbach’s RAV4 revealed multiple blood stains. A roughly six-inch blood stain in the rear cargo area by the wheel well displayed a pattern consistent with having been the result of bloody hair. The DNA profile developed from this stain and others in the cargo area, including along the plastic threshold to the cargo area, the door to the cargo area, and a metal piece along the opening of the cargo area, was identified as being that of Halbach.

         Other small blood stains in the passenger compartment of Halbach’s RAV4, just to the right of the ignition, on a CD case, on a metal panel between the rear seats and the vehicle cargo area, on the driver’s seat, on the front passenger’s seat, and on the floor by the center console all matched Steven Avery’s DNA. Avery’s DNA was also detected on the hood latch of Halbach’s RAV4 and on the key to the RAV4 that was found in Avery’s bedroom.

         Investigators learned that Halbach had taken photographs at the Avery property on five prior occasions. Avery called Auto Trader on the morning of October 31, 2005, and requested that “the same girl who had been out here before” come and take pictures of a vehicle that was for sale. Just before 2:30 p.m., Halbach contacted Auto Trader and said that she was on her way to the Avery property. At roughly 2:30 or 2:45 p.m., a neighbor of Avery’s saw Halbach photographing a minivan and then go to Avery’s residence. The neighbor left home at about 3:00 p.m. and observed Halbach’s RAV4 still outside Avery’s residence but did not see Halbach. When he returned home at about 5:00 p.m. Halbach’s RAV4 was no longer there.

         Avery was arrested and charged with Halbach’s murder.

         B. The Investigation of Brendan Dassey

         The investigation regarding Avery continued as he awaited trial. On February 20, 2006, investigators interviewed Kayla Avery, Steven Avery’s teenage niece. Although the interview focused on information related to Steven Avery, at the end of the interview Kayla stated that her cousin, Brendan Dassey, had been “acting up lately.” When asked to explain, Kayla stated that Dassey would stare into space and start crying uncontrollably, and that he had lost roughly 40 pounds recently.

         Based on this information from Kayla, and because a witness reported seeing Dassey at the bonfire with Avery around 7:30 or 7:45 on the evening of October 31, investigators decided that they needed to re-interview Dassey. Dassey, like Avery’s other relatives, had been questioned earlier in the investigation. Dassey was 16 years old and, aside from this investigation, had never had any contacts with law enforcement. (ECF Nos. 19-12 at 60; 19-13 at 4.) He was described as a “very shy boy” who “doesn’t say too much.” (ECF No. 19-12 at 67.) In school, he typically followed rules and did not get into trouble. (ECF No. 19-12 at 94.) He also suffered from certain intellectual deficits. His IQ was assessed as being in the low average to borderline range. (ECF No. 19-22 at 46-49.) He was a “slow learner” with “really, really bad” grades. (ECF No. 19-12 at 66.) Specifically, he had difficulty understanding some aspects of language and expressing himself verbally. (ECF No. 19-12 at 90.) He also had difficulties in the “social aspects of communication” such as “understanding and using nonverbal cues, facial expressions, eye contact, body language, tone of voice.” (ECF No. 19-12 at 91.) Testing also revealed that he was extreme when it came to social introversion, social alienation, and especially social avoidance. (ECF No. 19-22 at 34-35.) As a result, he received special education services at school. (ECF No. 19-13 at 3.)

         Calumet County Sheriff’s Investigator Mark Wiegert and Wisconsin Department of Justice Special Agent Tom Fassbender met with Dassey on February 27, 2006, in a conference room at Dassey’s high school, where they spoke for about an hour. After the interview, Wiegert and Fassbender contacted the prosecuting attorney, who requested that they create a better record of the interview than the poor-quality audio cassette recording they had. They made arrangements to interview Dassey again later that same day at a local police station that was equipped with video recording equipment.

         Wiegert and Fassbender contacted Dassey’s mother, Barb Janda, who went to the school. She and Dassey then went with the officers to the police station. According to Wiegert and Fassbender, Janda declined their offer to be present for the interview and instead remained in the waiting area of the police station. (ECF No. 19-19 at 7.) According to Janda, the investigators discouraged her from joining Dassey for the interview. (ECF No. 19-30 at 155.) During this second February 27 interview, which lasted less than an hour, Dassey acknowledged being present at the October 31, 2005 bonfire with Avery and that he saw body parts in the fire. (ECF No. 19-19 at 8-9.) Fassbender met with Dassey again in the evening on February 27. Dassey told Fassbender that he got bleach on his pants after helping Avery clean the floor of Avery’s garage on October 31. (ECF No. 19-19 at 10-11.)

         Believing that he knew more than what he had thus far told investigators, Wiegert and Fassbender obtained permission from Janda to speak to Dassey again two days later, on March 1, 2006. (ECF Nos. 19-19 at 12; 19-30 at 156.) According to Janda, the investigators never asked her if she wanted to be present for this interview. (ECF No. 19-30 at 156.) The investigators picked Dassey up at his high school in the morning on March 1. After they advised Dassey of his constitutional rights under Miranda, he agreed to speak with them. (ECF Nos. 19-19 at 16; 19-25 at 2.) Wiegert and Fassbender then went with Dassey to his house, located on the Avery family property near Avery’s home, where Dassey gave them the bleach-stained jeans he previously mentioned. (ECF No. 19-25 at 3-7.) On the way to the sheriff’s department Wiegert and Fassbender asked Dassey if he wanted anything to eat or drink. He declined. (ECF No. 19-25 at 8.)

         The March 1, 2006, interview was the fourth time the police had questioned Dassey in 48 hours. The interview began shortly before 11 a.m. It was conducted in a “soft room”-a room in the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department that contained a small couch, two soft chairs, and lamps-rather than a brick-walled interrogation room with a hard table. (ECF No. 19-19 at 19-20.) The interview was video and audio recorded. No adult was present on Dassey’s behalf.

         The interview began with Fassbender acknowledging that one reason Dassey had said he did not come forward earlier was that he was scared that he would be implicated. (ECF No. 19-25 at 16.) Fassbender stated, “I want to assure you that Mark and I both are in your corner[.] We’re on your side.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 16.) Fassbender stated that it was best if Dassey told the whole truth and not leave anything out, even if the details might be against his own interests. (ECF No. 19-25 at 16.) Fassbender continued, stating, “[F]rom what I’m seeing … I’m thinking you’re all right. OK, you don’t have to worry about things.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 16.) Wiegert commented, “Honesty here Brendan is the thing that’s gonna help you. OK, no matter what you did, we can work through that. OK. We can’t make any promises but we’ll stand behind you no matter what you did. OK. Because you’re being the good guy here.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 17.) Wiegert continued, noting that being honest was the best way to help himself out and “[h]onesty is the only thing that will set you free. Right?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 17.) He then assured Dassey, “We pretty much know everything[.] [T]hat’s why we’re talking to you again today.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 17.)

         At the investigators’ prompting, Dassey began to recount the events of October 31, 2005. (ECF No. 19-25 at 18.) Over the next approximately three hours (with a roughly half-hour break), generally responding to the investigators’ questions with answers of just a few hushed words, a story evolved whereby in its final iteration Dassey implicated himself in the rape, murder, and mutilation of Teresa Halbach.

         In the first version that Dassey told investigators on March 1, he got off the school bus at about 3:45 p.m. on October 31, 2005. When he went to his home, he saw Avery and Halbach talking on Avery’s porch. (ECF No. 19-25 at 18-19.) Dassey said he then went inside his home, cleaned his room, played videogames, ate dinner, and watched TV until Avery called him requesting help with a car. (ECF No. 19-25 at 18-22.)

         At this point Fassbender stopped Dassey and said he did not believe what Dassey was saying. Wiegert interjected, reminding Dassey to be honest and again stating, “We already know what happened.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 23.) “We’re in your corner, ” Fassbender assured Dassey. (ECF No. 19-25 at 23.) “We already know what happened[.] [N]ow tell us exactly. Don’t lie, ” Wiegert said. (ECF No. 19-25 at 23.) The investigators continued to encourage Dassey to tell the story. Fassbender asked, “Who’s [sic] car was in the garage?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 24) and Wiegert followed, “We already know. Just tell us. It’s OK.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 24.)

         Dassey responded, “Her jeep.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 24.) “That’s right, ” Fassbender confirmed. (ECF No. 19-25 at 24.) After some questions about Halbach’s RAV4 and the garage, the investigators proceeded to ask Dassey about what Avery showed him. (ECF No. 19-25 at 26.) Dassey eventually said that Avery showed him “the knife and the rope.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 26.) Wiegert asked where Halbach was, continuing, “Come on, we know this already. Be honest.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 26.) “In the back of the jeep, ” Dassey answered. (ECF No. 19-25 at 26.) Slowly, Dassey came to say that he first encountered Halbach when Avery showed him her body, deceased, bound with rope, and wearing a black shirt, a ripped t-shirt, and pants, in the back of her RAV4. (ECF No. 19-25 at 26, 31-32.) He said that Avery told him that he had stabbed her and raped her because she had upset him. (ECF No. 19-25 at 27, 30, 36.) The investigators pressed Dassey for more details, with Wiegert reminding him, “Remember we already know, but we need to hear it from you.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 28.) Dassey told the investigators that he and Avery took Halbach out of the back of the RAV4 and put her in the fire pit where a bonfire was already burning. (ECF No. 19-25 at 32-33.)

         With further prompting and assurances from the investigators that they already knew the details (ECF No. 19-25 at 30, 31, 36, 37), Dassey added details. He told them, for example, that he was outside riding his bike after school when he heard a woman screaming for help inside Avery’s home. (ECF No. 19-25 at 37-38.) When Fassbender said he thought that Dassey went over to Avery’s house, Dassey stated that he rode his bike to get the mail and, after noticing that there was mail for Avery, he went to Avery’s house. (ECF No. 19-25 at 41.) Avery answered the door, Dassey gave him the mail, and he left. (ECF No. 19-25 at 41.)

         Wiegert again challenged Dassey’s story, stating, “It’s OK Brendan. We already know, ” and soon thereafter, “You went inside, didn’t you?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 41.) Dassey nodded yes. (ECF No. 19-25 at 41.) Dassey then said that he knocked three times before Avery finally came to the door, sweaty, and invited Dassey into the kitchen. (ECF No. 19-25 at 45.) Once inside Avery’s home Dassey could see down the hallway to Avery’s bedroom where Halbach was naked, handcuffed to Avery’s bed, and screaming for help. (ECF No. 19-25 at 42-43.)

         Dassey said that Avery asked him if he wanted a soda. Dassey accepted. (ECF No. 19-25 at 46.) As Dassey drank his soda, Avery said that he wanted to continue raping Halbach and asked Dassey if he wanted to as well. (ECF No. 19-25 at 46-48.) Dassey said he “wasn’t aged, ” and, “I ain’t old enough ta have a kid yet.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 48, 99.) But Avery continued to pressure Dassey (ECF No. 19-25 at 99) and took him into the bedroom (ECF No. 19-25 at 48-49).

         Dassey denied doing anything further. But Wiegert assured Dassey, “We know [what] happened. … We know what happened, it’s OK.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 50.) Dassey again denied doing anything. (ECF No. 19-25 at 50.) Wiegert continued, “It’s not your fault, he makes you do it.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 50.) Dassey responded, “He told me ta do her.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 50.) Dassey eventually came to say he raped Halbach while Avery watched from the doorway. (ECF No. 19-25 at 51.) When it was over, Avery congratulated Dassey, and the two went to watch TV in another room for about 15 minutes. (ECF No. 19-25 at 52-53, 101.)

         The investigators asked Dassey what happened next. Dassey said he told Avery that he had to leave. (ECF No. 19-25 at 54.) Wiegert responded, “Brendan, be honest. You were there when she died and we know that. Don’t start lying now. We know you were there. … We already know, don’t lie to us now, OK, come on.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 54.) Dassey said that Avery then stabbed Halbach once in the stomach. (ECF No. 19-25 at 54-55.) Wiegert continued to prompt Dassey, “He did something else, we know that.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 54.) By this time the investigators knew from forensic examination of the recovered skull fragments that Halbach had been shot at least once in the head. (ECF Nos. 19-19 at 85; 19-20 at 27.) They would learn later that Halbach had been shot at least twice in the head. (ECF No. 19-20 at 52.)

         Dassey responded that Avery tied up Halbach. (ECF No. 19-25 at 54.) Wiegert continued, “We know he did something else to her, what else did he do to her?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 55.) Dassey responded that Avery choked Halbach until she went unconscious (ECF No. 19-25 at 55), at which point Dassey got the handcuff key, unlocked Halbach’s hands, and helped Avery tie her up with rope. (ECF No. 19-25 at 56-57.) Dassey initially said that Halbach was unconscious when they tied her up. But then he said that as they bound her she was screaming for Avery to stop and that Avery told her he would not, that she should shut her mouth, and that he was going to kill her. (ECF No. 19-25 at 56-58.)

         Wiegert prompted Dassey: “What else did he do to her? We know something else was done. Tell us, and what else did you do? Come on. Something with the head, Brendan?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 60.) Dassey did not answer Wiegert’s questions, leading to further questioning and prompting from Wiegert and Fassbender. (ECF No. 19-25 at 60.) Fassbender said, “What he made you do Brendan, we know he made you do somethin’ else. … We have the evidence Brendan, we just need you ta, ta be honest with us.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 60.) To this Dassey responded, “That he cut off her hair.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 60.) After a few short questions about the hair, Fassbender moved on, “What else was done to her head.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 61.) Dassey responded, “That he punched her.” “What else? What else?” Wiegert prompted. (ECF No. 19-25 at 61.)

         Fassbender continued, “He made you do something to her, didn’t he? So he would feel better about not being the only person, right?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 61.) Dassey responded that he cut her on her throat. (ECF No. 19-25 at 62.) Again Wiegert continued, “What else happens to her in her head?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 63.) After a couple more prompts and a pause, Fassbender said, “We know, we just need you to tell us.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 63.) Dassey said, “That’s all I can remember.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 63.) Wiegert responded, “All right, I’m just gonna come out and ask you. Who shot her in the head?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 63.) “He did, ” answered Dassey. (ECF No. 19-25 at 63.) When asked why he did not say that, Dassey said he “couldn’t think of it.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 63.)

         Dassey said that Avery shot Halbach with his .22 caliber rifle twice in her head after they had carried her outside and placed her on the side of the garage. (ECF No. 19-25 at 63-67, 103.) When asked again how many times Avery shot Halbach, Dassey said three, once each in the head, stomach, and heart. (ECF No. 19-25 at 67-68.) According to Dassey, as Avery was shooting Halbach, Avery said that they had to hurry up because he had people coming over. (ECF No. 19-25 at 69.) They then carried her and placed her in the fire, putting tires and branches on top of her. (ECF No. 19-25 at 68-69.)

         Dassey denied that Halbach was ever in the garage. (ECF No. 19-25 at 68.) But Fassbender persisted. “[W]e know there’s some, some things that you’re, you’re not tellin’ us. We need to get the accuracy about the garage and stuff like that and the car.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 69.) After some discussion about the fire, Fassbender returned to the subject of the garage, stating, “Again, we have, we know that some things happened in that garage, and in that car, we know that. You need to tell us about this so we know you’re tellin’ us the truth. I’m not gonna tell you what to say, you need to tell us.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 71.) In response to this prompt Dassey said that Avery put Halbach in the back of the RAV4 and planned to throw her into a pond. (ECF No. 19-25 at 71-72.) But Avery then decided that burning Halbach would be better and would dispose of the evidence faster, so they took her out of the RAV4 and placed her on the fire. (ECF No. 19-25 at 72, 105.)

         Fassbender again asked Dassey where Halbach was when she was shot. (ECF No. 19-25 at 72.) This time Dassey answered, “In the garage.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 72.) Wiegert asked whether Halbach was on the garage floor or in the back of the RAV4. Dassey said she was in the RAV4. Wiegert responded, “A h huh, come on, now where was she shot? Be honest here.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 73.) “In the garage, ” Dassey said. Changing his story yet again, Dassey now said that Halbach was shot after she was taken out of the RAV4. (ECF No. 19-25 at 73.) Fassbender asked Dassey again how many times Halbach was shot and added, “Remember [we] got a number of shell casings that we found in that garage. I’m not gonna tell ya how many but you need to tell me how many times, about, that she was shot.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 73.) Dassey said that Avery shot Halbach “[a]bout ten” times while she was on the garage floor. (ECF No. 19-25 at 73.) Wiegert responded, “That makes sense. Now we believe you.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 73.)

         Dassey said that after they placed Halbach in the fire Avery drove the RAV4 into the salvage yard with Dassey as a passenger. (ECF No. 19-25 at 76-77.) The two of them then put branches and a vehicle hood on the RAV4. (ECF No. 19-25 at 77.) Avery said he was going to crush the car. (ECF No. 19-25 at 87.) Dassey initially said that he did not know who took the license plates off the RAV4. But, when asked if Avery did so, Dassey responded in the affirmative. (ECF No. 19-25 at 77-78.)

         Fassbender asked, “OK, what else did he do, he did somethin’ else, you need to tell us what he did, after that car is parked there. It’s extremely important. Before you guys leave that car.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 79.) Dassey responded, “That he left the gun in the car.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 79.) Fassbender continued, “That’s not what I’m thinkin’ about. He did something to that car. He took the plates and he, I believe he did something else in that car.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 79.) “I don’t know, ” said Dassey. (ECF No. 19-25 at 79.) Fassbender’s prompts continued: “OK. Did he, did he, did he go and look at the engine, did he raise the hood at all or anything like that? To do something to that car?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 79.) Investigators knew that the battery in Halbach’s RAV4 had been disconnected. (ECF No. 19-17 at 142.) Dassey agreed that Avery did raise the hood but could not say what he did under the hood. (ECF No. 19-25 at 79-80.)

         Dassey said that when they got back to Avery’s house Avery put the key to the RAV4 “under his dresser or something.” But then he said Avery put the key in his dresser drawer-specifically, the second drawer from the top. (ECF No. 19-25 at 78-79.)

         Dassey said that he and Avery then cleaned up the blood in the garage, at which time Dassey got bleach on his jeans. (ECF No. 19-25 at 82.) According to Dassey, there was a roughly two-foot square blood stain on the garage floor near where the back tire of the RAV4 had been. (ECF No. 19-25 at 85-86.) Around this time, about 9:30 p.m., Dassey said his mother called and told him to be home by 10:00 p.m. (ECF No. 19-25 at 82-83.) Avery took the bloody sheets from the bedroom and burned them. (ECF No. 19-25 at 83.) Avery then told Dassey to get Halbach’s clothes from the garage and throw them on the fire. (ECF No. 19-25 at 84.)

         After Dassey recounted all of this to Wiegert and Fassbender, the investigators took a break. They provided Dassey with a soda and sandwich, and Dassey asked Wiegert, “How long is this gonna take?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 89.) “It shouldn’t take a whole lot longer, ” Wiegert answered. (ECF No. 19-25 at 89.) “Do you think I can get [back to school] before one twenty-nine?” Dassey asked. (ECF No. 19-25 at 89.) “Um, probably not.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 89.) “Oh, ” Dassey said. (ECF No. 19-25 at 89.) “What’s at one twenty-nine?” asked Wiegert. (ECF No. 19-25 at 89.) “Well, I have a project due in sixth hour, ” Dassey said. (ECF No. 19-25 at 89.) Wiegert responded, “OK. We’ll worry about that later, OK?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 90.)

         Following the break Wiegert and Fassbender explained to Dassey that they did not believe some of his story. (ECF No. 19-25 at 90-91.) In response to their challenges Dassey now denied seeing Avery and Halbach on Avery’s porch when he got home from school. (ECF No. 19-25 at 91.) But he said he did see Halbach’s RAV4 in Avery’s garage. (ECF No. 19-25 at 92.) He now said that when he got home he watched television for about half an hour while his brother used the phone, after which he made a phone call and then went to get the mail. (ECF No. 19-25 at 91-92.)

         When asked about Halbach’s personal effects, Dassey denied seeing them or knowing that Avery put them in the burn barrel. (ECF No. 19-25 at 95-96.) In response to Dassey’s denials, Wiegert said, “Brendan, it’s OK to tell us OK. It’s really important that you continue being honest with us. OK, don’t start lying now. If you know what happened to a cell phone or a camera or her purse, you need to tell us. OK? The hard part’s over. Do you know what happened to those items?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 96.) Dassey responded, “He burnt ‘em, ” (ECF No. 19-25 at 96), adding that he knew this because he saw them in the burn barrel when he went over with the mail (ECF No. 19-25 at 97-98).

         Dassey said that he later heard from Avery that Avery used a shovel to break up some of the bones that remained after the fire burned down and that he buried some of these fragments in spots around the fire and scattered others. (ECF No. 19-25 at 112-13.) At the investigators’ request, Dassey drew various pictures detailing what he had described. In doing so, the investigators asked Dassey to label various things in the pictures, prompting Dassey to ask how to spell “rack” and “garage.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 124, 128.)

         Fassbender asked Dassey to describe Halbach, stating, “We know that Teresa had a tattoo on her stomach, do you remember that?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 138.) Dassey shook his head and said, “Uh uh.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 139.) Fassbender followed up, “Do you disagree with me when I say that?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 139.) “No but I don’t know where it was, ” Dassey responded. (ECF No. 19-25 at 139.) In fact, the investigators knew that Halbach did not have any such tattoo. (ECF No. 19-12 at 45-46.) They posed the question in an effort to gauge whether Dassey was merely agreeing with details suggested by them. (ECF No. 19-12 at 45-46.)

         When asked why he did what he did, Dassey said, “Cuz I wanted to see how [sex] felt.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 140.) Dassey said he thought about stopping Avery but did not because he was afraid Avery would try to kill him. (ECF No. 19-25 at 140.) Dassey said that afterward Avery told him not to say anything. (ECF No. 19-285 at 141.)

         When the investigators took another break, Dassey asked if he was going to be back at school before the end of the day. (ECF No. 19-25 at 143.) Fassbender responded, “Probably not.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 143.)

         After the break Fassbender told Dassey, “because of what you told us, we’re gonna have to arrest you. … And so you’re not gonna be able to go home tonight.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 144.) “Does my mom know?” Dassey asked. (ECF No. 19-25 at 144.) The investigators told Dassey his mom did know, that in fact she was at the police station, and that she could come in to talk with him if he would like. (ECF No. 19-25 at 144.) Dassey asked if he would be in jail for just one day. Wiegert said he did not know. (ECF No. 19-25 at 144.)

         Dassey and Janda were left alone in the room. Dassey asked his mother, “What’d happen if he says something his [sic] story’s different? Wh-he says he, he admits to doing it?” (ECF No. 19-25 at 148.) “What do you mean, ” asked Janda. (ECF No. 19-25 at 148.) “Like if his story’s like different, like I never did nothin’ or somethin’.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 148.) “Did you? Huh?” Janda asked. (ECF No. 19-25 at 148.) “Not really, ” replied Dassey. (ECF No. 19-25 at 148.) “What do you mean not really?” asked Janda. (ECF No. 19-25 at 148.) “They got to my head, ” Dassey answered. Wiegert and Fassbender reentered the room (Ex. 43, Disc 3 at 3:19:32) and Dassey never explained what he meant by “not really.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 148.)

         “Were you pressuring him?” Janda asked the investigators. (ECF No. 19-25 at 148.) She later said that she asked that question because she believed that if Dassey was pressured he would say anything. (ECF No. 19-30 at 184-85.) Wiegert answered, “No we told him we needed to know the truth. We’ve been doing this job a long time Barb and we can tell when people aren’t telling the truth.” (ECF No. 19-25 at 149.)

         Based upon the new information from Dassey investigators obtained another search warrant for the Avery property. (ECF No. 19-20 at 53-54.) Pursuant to the warrant investigators again searched the garage, finding two fired bullets. (ECF No. 19-20 at 54.) Halbach’s DNA was found on one of the bullets, and investigators determined that it had been fired from the .22 caliber rifle recovered from above Avery’s bed. (ECF No. 19-20 at 54.)

         The state charged Dassey with first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree sexual assault, and mutilation of a corpse. (ECF No. 19-1.)

         C. Leonard Kachinsky, Pre-Trial Counsel for Brendan Dassey

         1. Media Interviews

         On March 7, 2006, attorney Leonard Kachinsky was appointed to represent Dassey. (ECF No. 19-26 at 113.) Kachinsky was excited to be involved in Dassey’s case because by then it had garnered significant local and national attention. (ECF No. 19-26 at 122-23.) Essentially immediately after his appointment Kachinsky began giving media interviews in which he discussed the case. (ECF No. 19-26 at 114-26.)

         Kachinsky first met with Dassey on March 10, 2006. (ECF No. 19-26 at 123.) Dassey told Kachinsky that what was in the criminal complaint was not true and that he wanted to take a polygraph test to prove his innocence. (ECF No. 19-26 at 137-38.) After this initial meeting, local media reported Kachinsky as having described Dassey as sad, remorseful, and overwhelmed. (ECF No. 19-39 at 3, 9-10.) The media reported that Kachinsky blamed Avery for “leading [Dassey] down the criminal path” and said that he had not ruled out a plea deal. (ECF Nos. 19-26 at 134-35; 19-39 at 4, 10-11.) Kachinsky later said that one of his reasons for speaking to the media was to communicate to both Dassey and to his family so that he could get them “accustomed to the idea that Brendan might take a legal option that they don’t like ….” (ECF No. 19-26 at 136-37.)

         Over the next few days nearly all of Kachinsky’s work on Dassey’s case involved communicating with local and national media outlets. (ECF No. 19-26 at 138-40.) On March 17 Kachinsky appeared on Nancy Grace’s national television show. (ECF No. 19- 26 at 141-42.) During that appearance Kachinsky said that, if the recording of Dassey’s statement was accurate and admissible, “there is, quite frankly, no defense.” (ECF No. 19-26 at 142-43.) Kachinsky later said that he was merely “stating the obvious.” (ECF No. 19-26 at 144.) However, Kachinsky had not yet watched the March 1 recorded interview. (ECF No. 19-26 at 145.) All he had seen was the criminal complaint. (ECF No. 19-26 at 145.)

         In subsequent media interviews Kachinsky referred to the techniques the investigators used in questioning Dassey as “pretty standard” and “quite legitimate.” (ECF No. 19-26 at 170.) One local news broadcast included Kachinsky’s response to statements Avery had made to the media. Avery had said that he knew that Dassey’s confession must have been coerced because there was no physical evidence to support what Dassey had said. (ECF No. 19-26 at 175.) Kachinsky responded that he had reviewed the recorded statement and it did not appear that the investigators were putting words in Dassey’s mouth. (ECF No. 19-26 at 175-76.) Kachinsky also publicly refuted Avery’s statement that Dassey was not very smart and that it would be easy for law enforcement to coerce him. (ECF No. 19-26 at 180.)

         In another interview Kachinsky said that, although he believed Dassey had some intellectual deficits, he also believed Dassey had a reasonably good ability to recall the events he participated in. (ECF No. 19-26 at 182-83.) Over the roughly three weeks following his appointment Kachinsky spent about one hour with Dassey and at least 10 hours communicating with the press. (ECF No. 19-26 at 183.)

         Kachinsky met with Dassey again on April 3, at which time Dassey again professed his innocence and asked to take a polygraph examination. (ECF No. 19-26 at 186.) Kachinsky hired Michael O’Kelly, with whom he was not familiar, to conduct a polygraph exam. (ECF No. 19-26 at 187-88.) O’Kelly held himself out as a private investigator and polygraph examiner. (ECF No. 19-33 at 3.) Kachinsky informed Dassey of the upcoming polygraph examination in a letter, stating, “the videotape is pretty convincing that you were being truthful on March 1, ” and encouraging Dassey not to cover up for Avery. (ECF No. 19-26 at 190.) Shortly before the polygraph examination, the prosecutor sent an email to Kachinsky expressing concern about the pretrial publicity that Kachinsky was engaging in and referring him to the relevant rule of attorney ethics governing such publicity. (ECF No. 19-26 at 28, 201.)

         2. Defense Investigator Michael O’Kelly

         O’Kelly conducted a polygraph examination of Dassey, the results of which were inconclusive. (ECF No. 19-26 at 212.) Nonetheless, O’Kelly described Dassey to Kachinsky as “a kid without a conscience” or something similar. (ECF No. 19-26 at 212.) Notwithstanding O’Kelly’s opinion of Dassey, Kachinsky hired him as the defense investigator in the case. (ECF No. 19-26 at 213.)

         Despite Dassey’s claims of innocence, both O’Kelly and Kachinsky proceeded on the assumption that Dassey would cooperate with the prosecution and become the key witness against Avery. (ECF No. 19-29 at 46-47.) O’Kelly’s primary goal was to uncover information that would bolster the prosecution’s case. (ECF No. 19-29 at 47, 53.) To this end he purportedly developed information as to the possible location of certain evidence. (ECF No. 19-29 at 42-44.) Kachinsky provided this information to the prosecutor and a lead investigator and informed them that they may wish to speak to O’Kelly. (ECF No. 19-26 at 236-37.) Although the information led to a search warrant being issued, the search warrant did not yield any additional evidence against Dassey. (ECF No. 1-5, ¶ 12.)

         Kachinsky decided that he wanted O’Kelly to re-interview Dassey to get him once again to admit to his involvement in the rape, murder, and mutilation of Halbach. (ECF Nos. 19-26 at 243-48; 19-29 at 83.) Kachinsky wanted to make it clear to Dassey that, based upon the evidence, a jury was going to find him guilty. (ECF No. 19-27 at 17.) Toward that end, he chose May 12 as the date for O’Kelly to interview Dassey-the date a decision on Dassey’s motion to suppress his March 1 confession was scheduled to be rendered. (ECF No. 19-26 at 243-44.) Kachinsky expected to lose the motion to suppress and believed that the effect of losing such a crucial motion would leave Dassey vulnerable. (ECF No. 19-26 at 244.)

         Shortly before meeting with Dassey, in an email to Kachinsky O’Kelly expressed contempt for the Avery family. (ECF No. 19-33 at 1-2; see also ECF No. 19-29 at 93.) He referred to the Avery family as “criminals” and asserted that family members engaged in incestuous sexual conduct and had a history of stalking women. (ECF No. 19-33 at 1.) He continued, “This is truly where the devil resides in comfort. I can find no good in any member. These people are pure evil.” (ECF No. 19-33 at 1.) O’Kelly quoted a friend as having said, “This is a one branch family tree. Cut this tree down. We need to end the gene pool here.” (ECF No. 19-33 at 1.) O’Kelly thought that Dassey’s denial of his confession was an “unrealistic” “fantasy” that was influenced by his family. (ECF Nos. 19-33 at 1; 19-29 at 86-88.) On O’Kelly’s ...


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