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In a statement posted via its We the People site, the White House explained that President Obama is unable to free Avery and Dassey because their alleged crime, the murdering of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach, is a state criminal offense.
“Under the Constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the President. In addition, the President’s pardon power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and military court-martial proceedings. However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense,” the statement reads.
“Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities.”
The petition, launched Dec. 20, pleaded for both subjects to be given a full pardon and claimed “the justice system embarrassingly failed both men, completely ruining their entire lives.”
It reached 100,000 signatures, the amount required in order to elicit a response from the White House, within 30 days and has currently amassed over 129,000.
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