On "60 Minutes," Exoneree Seeks Accountability

Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys after murder charges against him were officially dropped.
Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys after murder charges against him were officially dropped.

Michael Morton, who spent 25 years in prison wrongfully convicted of his wife's murder, told Lara Logan of CBS's 60 Minutes that it's not revenge he's after — it's accountability.

"I don't want this to happen to anybody else. Revenge isn't the issue here," he said. "Revenge, I know, doesn't work. But accountability works."

A Williamson County jury sentenced Morton to life in prison in 1987 after district attorney Ken Anderson convinced them the 32-year-old grocery store manager and father had beat his wife to death in a perverted rage. DNA evidence last year revealed that Morton was innocent. The testing connected another man, Mark Norwood, to the murder of Christine Morton and to the 1988 killing of Debra Masters Baker

Evidence uncovered by Morton's lawyers has revealed that Anderson, now a state district judge in Williamson County, did not turn over information to the judge and the jury that could have prevented the wrongful conviction and perhaps led authorities to the real killer. Now Anderson faces prosecution himself. A court of inquiry is expected to begin work soon on an investigation into whether he committed criminal misconduct when he tried Morton. 

Anderson has denied any wrongdoing in the prosecution, though he has said he feels sick about what happened to Morton. In archival news video that 60 Minutes aired, Anderson mocked the tears Morton shed in court. A younger Anderson, bearded and dark-haired, told news crews in 1987, "It got sickening after a while to watch him cry at the wrong times, and he seemed to cry only for himself."

 

Anderson wouldn't agree to an interview with 60 Minutes, but his lawyer, Eric Nichols, said suggesting that his client committed a criminal offense was "completely unwarranted."

A part of the Morton story that 60 Minutes didn't include was the seven-year battle that finally led to the DNA testing last year. Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley has also drawn criticism for his refusal for years to allow testing on the bandana that ultimately contained DNA that freed Morton and led to the arrest of Norwood. Bradley has said that he was following advice from his predecessor and that he was unaware that Anderson had not provided all the evidence in his file. In an interview after Morton's release from prison, Bradley, who is facing a stiff re-election challenge, said he was humbled and changed by his experience with the Morton case. 

Morton said during the program that he has reunited with his son since he was released from prison. He was three when Morton first went to prison. When his son turned 18, he changed his name and was adopted by Morton's sister-in-law and her husband. "That was when I hit rock bottom. That was the end of it. That's when I had nothing left," Morton said.

Morton also has received $2 million in compensation from the state for the decades he spent wrongfully imprisoned. What's driving him now, he said during the program, is a desire for accountability.

"It's the social glue in a way. Because if you're not ... accountable, then you can do anything," he said.

Watch the video below. Click here for a transcript of the show.

 

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