Tribpedia: Michael Morton

Michael Morton was a man wrongfully convicted of the brutal murder of his wife, Christine Morton, in 1986. He served nearly 25 years in prison before being exonerated in October 2011 when DNA evidence connected another man to the murder. 

Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson handed Morton a life sentence in 1987 after a jury found him guilty. Defense lawyers allege Anderson and his office withheld evidence during the trial that could have proven Morton's evidence. Anderson stood trial over the allegations, but denied any wrongdoing in the case

On Nov. 9, police arrested and charged Mark Alan Norwood, a 57-year-old Batrop resident, with the murder of Christine Morton and the murder of another Austin woman, Debra Masters Baker. Norwood's DNA was found on a blue bandana near the crime scene of Christine Morton's murder.  

New York-based Innocence Project lawyers sought DNA testing on the bandana for six years before it was tested last year and excluded Morton. Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley agreed to release Morton from prison based on the evidence. 

In 1987, the original trial judge ordered Anderson to allow him to review any evidence that might potentially exonerate Morton. Lawyers for Morton became suspicious that prosecutors had withheld information from the judge when jurors reported to them that Mike Davis, the the assistant district attorney, told them after the trial that there was an inch-thick stack of police reports that jurors never saw that could have raised more doubt about Morton's guilt. His lawyers asked for a new trial, but the request was denied. 

Morton's lawyers discovered this year that a transcript in which Christine Morton's mother told a sheriff's investigator that the couple's 3-year-old son, Eric, saw a "monster" with a big mustache who was not his father brutally attack his mother. Defense attorney's claim evidence was not provided to the judge such as the transcript as well as reports of Christine Morton's credit cards being used and checks cashed with her forged signature, and information about witnesses who saw a suspicious van scouting the neighborhood.


Michael Morton, at the Williamson County Courthouse on April 19, 2013, stands with state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, an author of the Senate Bill 1611, and Ellis' chief of staff, Brandon Dudley, who also worked on the legislation.
Michael Morton sits in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys, John Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, and Nina Morrison of the New York-based Innocence Project. Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys, John Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, and Barry Scheck of the New York-based Innocence Project. Judge Ken Anderson (l) and Michael Morton (r)

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