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US appeals court agrees to reconsider ‘Making a Murderer’ conviction

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A U.S. appeals court in Chicago on Friday agreed to reconsider the decision of a federal judge who overturned the homicide conviction of a Wisconsin man serving a life sentence in a case chronicled in the Netflix television documentary “Making of a Murderer.”

A federal magistrate, William Duffin, threw out the guilty verdict against Brendan Dassey last August, ruling the conviction was based on a coerced confession that the defendant, now 27, gave as a 16-year-old youth with a learning disability.

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Duffin’s decision in June, setting the stage for his release. But Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed, asking for an “en banc” re-hearing of the case by the full 12-member circuit court.

The 7th Circuit on Friday granted that request, vacating the earlier decision of its three-judge panel and setting a new round of oral arguments to be heard on Sept. 26.

At issue is the habeas petition filed by Dassey seeking to reverse the 2007 state court jury verdict that found him guilty at age 17 of first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse.

Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, were convicted in separate trials of killing freelance photographer Teresa Halbach at Avery’s home and scrap yard in 2005. Her charred remains were found in an incineration barrel and a burn pit on Avery’s property, about 80 miles (130 km) north of Milwaukee.

Both were sentenced to life in prison.

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The case was the subject of a 10-part documentary, “Making a Murderer,” which questioned the handling of the investigation and the motives of Manitowoc County law enforcement officials.

The documentary recounted how Avery was convicted of an earlier, unrelated rape and sent to prison in 1985, serving 18 years before DNA evidence exonerated him, and he was released.

He filed a $36 million federal lawsuit against the county, its former sheriff and district attorney in 2004. A year later, he and Dassey were accused of killing Halbach.

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The Emmy-winning documentary suggested authorities planted evidence against both defendants, a claim rejected by the current sheriff.

Netflix said last year that a second season of “Making a Murderer,” chronicling the latest developments in the case, was in production.

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(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Diane Craft)


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Louisiana Democrat re-elected governor — despite Trump’s rallies for the Republican candidate

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The Associated Press has called the Lousiana's governor's race for incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards.

Edwards triumphed over Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who called to concede.

The outcome is another major political loss for President Donald Trump, who had held multiple campaign rallies for Rispone.

During his most recent rally, Trump begged the crowd to give him a "big win" in the election.

Eddie Rispone has conceded the #lagov race to Gov. John Bel Edwards, giving the Democrat four more years in ruby red Louisiana despite Trump’s best efforts to flip the seat. Edwards camp says Rispone called minutes ago to concede. #lagov #lalege

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Press secretary says it is ‘dangerous for the country’ to question whether she is putting out honest info

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Press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Saturday argued it was "dangerous for the country" for anyone to challenge the veracity of her claims.

Grisham made her argument after President Donald Trump went to Walter Reed Hospital for an unannounced doctor's visit, resulting in a great deal of speculation.

Following the visit, Grisham claimed Trump was "healthy" and "without complaints" -- a claim many found unlikely as the president has spent a good deal of time as president airing his many grievances.

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Sondland used WhatsApp to communicate with Ukraine — and won’t turn over the messages: report

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland used WhatsApp to send encrypted messages to a top Ukranian official, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The communication occurred with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Volodymr Zelensky, when Sondland was in Kyiv, the newspaper reported.

"Sondland was also texting back and forth on WhatsApp with Yermak throughout the trip, and had been communicating with other Ukrainian officials over the messaging app in the preceding and subsequent months, according to people familiar with his interactions," The Post reported.

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