On hit docuseries Making a Murderer, convicted killer Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, seem like innocent victims in a vast police conspiracy to put them behind bars. But in upcoming book Avery: The Case Against Steven Avery and What Making a Murderer Gets Wrong, the notorious case's prosecutor Ken Kratz reveals there's so much more to the story than the show's directors led viewers to believe.
For one, Dassey was more than just a slow high school student coerced into confessing his part in the 2005 rape and murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. Rather, the 16-year-old told all to cops unprompted in several interviews about his participation in his uncle's heinous crimes.
"We kept telling him, 'It's okay, Brendan, we already know what happened.' And the kid kept telling us more, and more, and more,'" Detective Mark Wiegert allegedly told Kratz of a March 1, 2006 interview at the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department.
"You aren't going to f***ing believe it. Dassey confessed to raping Teresa, while Steven watched, and they killed her together."
Most shockingly, Dassey was alone because his mother, Barb Janda Tadych, declined to sit in on the interview.
In a May 13 video interview, which was never covered on Making a Murderer, Dassey made "chilling admissions," including his recollection of raping the bound Halbach, taking money from her purse, killing her in Avery's garage, moving her dead body, and even torching her corpse in a backyard fire pit.
"He describes the horrible smell of a burning body — a smell that those unfortunate enough to experience can tell you they will never forget," Kratz writes in the book. "He witnesses Steven chopping up Teresa's bones as they burned."
During the session, Dassey also made a shocking claim about Avery.
"Brendan also describes his relationship with his uncle, including reminders from the seasoned criminal never to talk to the cops, and troubling allegations of Uncle Steve touching his genitals," Kratz says.
While his sentence to life in prison may sound severe for a 16-year-old criminal, Dassey was given plenty of opportunities to take a plea bargain and reduce his prison time. He could have served just 15 years, Kratz insists. However, Dassey refused to testify against his uncle, allegedly at the urging of Avery's father Allan.
"His family helped send him to prison," Kratz writes.
Today, Kratz says he "loses no sleep" over Dassey's prosecution.
"I was a prosecutor with a dead young woman and her surviving family for which to pursue justice," he states. "I believe Brendan could have saved Teresa's life, but chose instead to involve himself in the rape, murder and mutilation of an innocent woman."
"I have always said that he did not deserve life in prison, and should have taken the plea bargain that I offered him. But I couldn't, and can't, make Brendan's choices for him."
But today, there is hope for Dassey's future freedom. A federal judge overturned his conviction in August, claiming he was tricked into a confession. The 27-year-old remains in prison amid a Department of Justice appeal.
Meanwhile, a new attorney for Avery, 54, has filed an appeal in his own case.
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