Dassey juror believes teen killer deserves new trial - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Dassey juror believes teen killer deserves new trial

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison man who served on the jury in the murder trial of Steven Avery's teenage nephew, Brendan Dassey tells 27 News Dassey deserves a new trial because his mental competence was in question, and his public defenders failed him.

"I think he should have another trial," Robert Covington tells 27 News.  "And he should be given another chance."

Dassey and Avery were found guilty in separate trials of the 2003 rape and murder of 25-year old photographer Teresa Halbach on the Avery family salvage yard  property in Manitowoc County.  Dassey's jury was picked in Dane County.

The popular and controversial Netflix presentation "Making a Murderer" looks at the events of both cases and has caused people to sign petitions demanding Avery's pardon.  The series has also raised questions about police practices when Dassey confesses to crimes during an interrogation.

The 71-year old Covington - who retired from his job at Oscar Mayer in 2012 - says he stands by the guilty verdict he and other jurors delivered in 2007.  "We tried to make the best decision that we really could,"  Covington tells 27 News. 

But Covington says he and another juror raised concerns at the beginning of jury deliberations about Dassey's competence, only to have the jury decide it was not the legal question before them.

"If you had listened to how Brendan Dassey talked and explained himself, you would have seen something was wrong,"  Covington says.

27 News has been unable to reach the other juror referenced by Covington.

Covington tells 27 News the evidence indicated Dassey was fearful of Avery.  He says Avery pressured the teen after Halbach was sexually assaulted.  "He (Avery) said, 'We got to do something.  If we don't, we both go to jail,' " Covington says.

Covington tells 27 News Dassey's defense attorneys neglected to portray the teenage Dassey as under the control of his uncle.  "They could have been more forceful."

In the Netflix presentation, a call to Dassey in jail from his mother includes Dassey's mother telling her son to reject the idea of any plea agreement and cooperation in helping to prosecute Avery.

A judge ruled Dassey's intelligence was sufficient for him to understand what he was doing when he talked to investigators and confessed to the crimes.  During Dassey's trial, he testified he had lied to officers about being Avery's accomplice.

Covington remembers minute details from the trial, such as the discovery of a button from Teresa Halbach's jeans in the ashes of a bonfire Avery used to try to dispose of any trace of the woman.  Covington tells 27 News he's dwelled on his service as a juror in the case and the outcome for Dassey.

"Yes, it stuck with me because I didn't think he was quite altogether."


MADISON (WKOW) -- A juror from the 2007 sexual assault and murder trial of Steven Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, tells 27 News Dassey deserves a new trial.

While Robert Covington of Madison says he remains convinced Dassey was responsible for terrible acts against Teresa Halbach, Covington maintains Dassey's defense team failed him.  He also believes Dassey could not sufficiently grasp what occurred.

"If you had listened to how Brendan Dassey talked and explained himself, you would have seen something was wrong,"  Covington tells 27 News.

At the urging of Avery and along with him, Dassey raped and killed Halbach, a 25-year old photographer in 2003, who was on the Avery family's Manitowoc County property to take pictures of a van for sale. 

The Netflix presentation, "Making A Murderer," has raised questions about Avery and Dassey's guilt, including police tactics during an interrogation of Dassey, in which the 16-year old confessed to the crimes.

Covington says the beginning of jury deliberations in the Dassey case included concerns being expressed.   "It was two of us," Covington tells 27 News.

For more on this juror's experiences and insight, watch 27 News at 5.

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