MANITOWOC -- A jury found Brendan Dassey guilty Wednesday night of raping a 25-year-old freelance photographer and helping his uncle kill her and burn her body.

Dassey, 17, was charged with being a party to first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse and second-degree sexual assault in the death of Teresa Halbach on Halloween in 2005 after she went to the family's auto salvage lot to photograph a vehicle for sale.

Dassey was found guilty of all three charges by the jury, which was selected in Dane County because of pretrial publicity in the Manitowoc area. Jurors deliberated about 4 1/2 hours before returning the verdict.

Dassey's uncle, Steven Avery, 44, was found guilty of the murder last month. Avery previously served 18 years in prison for rape before being exonerated by DNA evidence and freed in 2003.

Both Avery and Dassey face mandatory life terms on the homicide charge. Avery is set to be sentenced June 1 and Dassey on Aug. 6.

Mike Halbach, Teresa's brother, said his family is relieved they no longer must endure months of court dates in the two cases.

"Hopefully Teresa can now enjoy her time in heaven instead of worrying about us," he said. "We're sending both of them to prison."

Dassey sat motionless as the verdicts were read. His family left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. His mother, Barb Tadych, refused to stand up when the jury was dismissed from court.

Defense attorney Mark Fremgen said he and Dassey were "disappointed." He stopped short of saying he definitely would appeal but said it would make sense in a case with a life term as punishment.

"I prefer to win. I prefer to see Brendan out," he said on his way out of the courthouse.

A key piece of evidence in the nine-day trial was a three-hour videotaped statement in which Dassey detailed how he found Halbach chained, naked, to Avery's bed and raped her at his uncle's urging. He said Avery stabbed her, he slit her throat and Avery took her to the garage and shot her multiple times before they burned her remains.

He later recanted his statements.

Unlike his uncle, who never took the witness stand at either trial, Dassey testified in his own defense.

He said he made up the story of the killing and may have used details he learned from a novel he read a few years earlier. He responded repeatedly "I don't know" when prosecutors asked him why he would lie to detectives.

Prosecutors argued that investigators found the shackles in Avery's bedroom and also found a bullet fragment in the garage with Halbach's DNA on it, which matched Dassey's story.

Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz, acting as a special prosecutor in the cases of both Avery and Dassey, told reporters after the verdicts were read that Dassey could have saved Halbach but chose instead to rape and kill her.

"A tragedy occurred that did not have to happen," Kratz said.

Halbach disappeared after going to the Avery family's auto salvage yard near Mishicot to photograph a minivan that Avery's sister was selling through Auto Trader Magazine. Her cousins later found her vehicle in the lot, partially concealed by branches, pieces of wood and car parts.

Investigators found charred fragments of her bones in a pit behind Avery's garage and in a barrel, along with her camera and cell phone.

Avery claimed he was framed for the Halbach murder by the same sheriff's department he sued for his previous wrongful conviction. That lawsuit was settled last year for $400,000.


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