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Series helps get conviction overturned

dpadpa 13/08/2016

A Netflix documentary that questioned the legal process in a rape-murder court case has led a judge to overturn the conviction of one of two men charged.

A US court has overturned the murder conviction of one of two men profiled in the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer after a judge ruled investigators had obtained his confession improperly.

Brendan Dassey confessed to helping his uncle Steven Avery rape and murder photographer Teresa Halbach in the northern US state of Wisconsin in 2005.

Both were convicted in separate trials and sentenced to life in prison.

However, US Magistrate Judge William Duffin said on Friday Dassey made the confession in response to false promises by investigators who said he had "nothing to worry about", making the confession inadmissible as evidence.

In his ruling, Duffin wrote that the case represented "the sort of 'extreme malfunction in the state criminal justice system' that federal habeas corpus relief exists to correct".

Habeas corpus relief refers to legal actions by which people can challenge arrest, detention or imprisonment.

Dassey will be freed in 90 days unless prosecutors decide to take the case to trial again.

The 10-part Making a Murderer series generated much public interest in Dassey and Avery after filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi raised questions about the legal process that had sent them to prison.

The series has since been nominated for three Emmy Awards and a second season has been announced.

Dassey's case is not the first to win a second look in a US court after being the subject of a hit documentary series.

Adnan Syed, the subject of the podcast Serial, was granted a new trial in June after doubts were raised about his conviction for murdering a former girlfriend 16 years ago.

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