A 17-year-old accused of raping a 25-year-old photographer and helping his uncle kill her told a jury Monday that he lied to investigators and made up details of the crime.
Brendan Dassey calmly recanted a three-hour videotaped confession he made about a year ago and the jury heard last week. He testified that he made up the story but repeatedly answered "I don't know" when he was asked why.
At one point Dassey suggested he got the details from a book he read three or four years ago.
"I believe it was called, Kiss the Girls,'" he told the jury.
A prosecutor asked who wrote the book.
"I don't remember his name," Dassey said.
The book about competing serial killers, written by James Patterson, was made into a 1997 movie starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery were charged with killing Teresa Halbach, 25, and burning her body on Oct. 31, 2005, near the family's auto salvage lot in rural Manitowoc County. Avery, 44, was convicted last month in Halbach's murder and awaits sentencing.
While Avery was arrested shortly after Halbach disappeared, investigators have said Dassey didn't become a suspect until he made his videotaped statement March 1, 2006.
In trying to explain his admissions, Dassey told the jury Monday that he felt two investigators had "sort of" made him a promise -- "that if I told the truth I won't go away for life."
During cross-examination, prosecutors replayed 14 minutes of the statement in which Dassey describes raping Halbach and hearing her scream for help. He closed his eyes on the witness stand and fidgeted with his fingers.
The video showed Dassey slouched on a purple love seat in a Sheriff's Department interview room with a soda nearby. He did not display emotion as he told the detectives he heard Halbach scream for help and saw her naked, handcuffed to a bed in Avery's home. He said he raped her at Avery's suggestion. Avery stabbed and shot Halbach, then they burned her body in a pit behind Avery's trailer, he said.
"He made me cut her throat," Dassey told detectives.
But on Monday, the sixth day of his trial, Dassey testified that he didn't see Halbach at his uncle's home the day she disappeared. He said he did not see her alive.
"Did you see her body?"
"No," he told the jury.
Special prosecutor Tom Fallon pressed Dassey about details in the confession, including a picture he drew for investigators of a black-handled knife he and Avery allegedly used in the attack.
Why did he tell investigators he used the knife to cut her throat? Fallon asked.
"I don't know," Dassey said in a monotone voice.
"Mr. Dassey, why did you tell police that the burn pile smelled bad?" Fallon asked.
"I don't know," the teen responded.
The teen showed no emotion in about 90 minutes of testimony. Before leaving the stand, Dassey said none of the things he told police happened.
"Why should this jury believe you today?" his attorney asked.
"Because I didn't really do it," Dassey said.
Dassey's attorneys contend that investigators used promises, lies, suggestions and leading questions to get Dassey to falsely confess.
Avery is awaiting sentencing in June.