Tribpedia: Texas Court Of Criminal Appeals

New Law Gives New Hope to Death Row Inmate

Convicted of stomping a 19-month-old baby to death, Robert Avila faces execution in January. Under a law passed this year that allows for new trials in cases where forensic science has advanced, Avila hopes to bring to court new scientific evidence that his lawyers say shows that the child's death could have been a tragic accident. 

Megan Winfrey, 25, points at photos of her daughter Danielle Hammond, 7, in her mobile home in Coldspring, Texas, Thursday, May 23, 2013. Megan Winfrey was released from prison after being acquitted of murder earlier this year. The court said that the dog-sniff evidence used to secure her conviction was insufficient.
Megan Winfrey, 25, points at photos of her daughter Danielle Hammond, 7, in her mobile home in Coldspring, Texas, Thursday, May 23, 2013. Megan Winfrey was released from prison after being acquitted of murder earlier this year. The court said that the dog-sniff evidence used to secure her conviction was insufficient.

Out of Prison, Winfrey Struggles Despite Acquittal

Megan Winfrey spent six years — nearly all of the 25-year-old's adult life — behind bars before she was acquitted of murder. She faces the colossal challenge of starting her life without compensation for the years she lost in prison.

After Drug Lab Scandal, Court Reverses Convictions

The Court of Criminal Appeals continued to reverse more convictions of drug offenders on Wednesday after a former employee with a DPS crime laboratory in Houston may have fabricated the results of thousands of drug tests.

Ben Spencer, on the left, at the Coffield Prison Unit during a February 2013 interview. Right, Andrew Wattley, the son of Spencer's lawyer, Cheryl Wattley, demonstrates the dim lighting in which witnesses said they identified Spencer in 1987.
Ben Spencer, on the left, at the Coffield Prison Unit during a February 2013 interview. Right, Andrew Wattley, the son of Spencer's lawyer, Cheryl Wattley, demonstrates the dim lighting in which witnesses said they identified Spencer in 1987.

Years After Innocence Finding, Inmate Remains in Prison

A Dallas County judge in 2008 found Ben Spencer innocent of the 1987 robbery and murder for which he is serving a life sentence. The state's highest court disagreed, though, and this month he will mark 26 years behind bars.

Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, right, and Sheriff Jim Boutwell speak with reporters.
Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, right, and Sheriff Jim Boutwell speak with reporters.

Michael Morton's Conviction Comes to Define Anderson

Williamson County State District Judge Ken Anderson faces a court of inquiry, starting Monday, that will determine whether he should face charges over a wrongful murder conviction.

In 1981, Max Soffar was sentenced to death for the murder of three people at a Houston bowling alley. Soffar, who has spent three decades on death row, says his confessions were coerced. Prosecutors say that the case against him is solid, and police officers deny accusations of coercion.
In 1981, Max Soffar was sentenced to death for the murder of three people at a Houston bowling alley. Soffar, who has spent three decades on death row, says his confessions were coerced. Prosecutors say that the case against him is solid, and police officers deny accusations of coercion.

Inmate's Case Adds to Debate on Recorded Interrogations

Death row inmate Max Soffar says his 1980 murder confession was coerced. As his lawyers say his case highlights a broader debate about false confessions, police and prosecutors say he told them details only the killer would know. 

Michael Morton stands 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. Morton was officially exonerated Dec. 19, 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's murder.
Michael Morton stands 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. Morton was officially exonerated Dec. 19, 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's murder.

Texas Among Top 3 States in Total Exonerations

Researchers at two law schools Monday released an unprecedented listing of all the exoneration cases from the last 23 years. Only two states had more exonerations than Texas, according to the report.

John Bradley, Williamson County District Attorney in Georgetown, TX Friday November 11, 2011. Bradley is responsible for prosecuting felony criminal offenses that are committed in Williamson County.
John Bradley, Williamson County District Attorney in Georgetown, TX Friday November 11, 2011. Bradley is responsible for prosecuting felony criminal offenses that are committed in Williamson County.

State Bar Dismisses Bradley Misconduct Grievance

The State Bar of Texas has dismissed a grievance filed against Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley in the  case of Michael Morton, whose wrongful conviction for murder was reversed last year.

Murray Burr (l) and Megan Winfrey
Murray Burr (l) and Megan Winfrey

Dogs' Evidence Stands as Woman Waits in Prison

If the dog-sniffing evidence that led to the conviction of her father for conspiring to commit murder was unreliable enough for him to be released from prison, why is Megan Winfrey still serving a life sentence for the same crime based largely on the same evidence?

Judge and former prosecutor Ken Anderson speaks about the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.
Judge and former prosecutor Ken Anderson speaks about the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.

In Deposition, Morton Prosecutor Can't Recall Details

Judge Ken Anderson, the former prosecutor who saw to the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton, said during a marathon deposition that he remembered few of the details from the 25-year-old case and that he did nothing wrong.

The Weekly TribCast: Episode 105

On this week's TribCast, Ross, Reeve, Brandi, and Jay review the latest criminal justice headlines, consider the difference between news and gossip in light of the latest Herman Cain developments, and explain what's going on with redistricting.

Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.
Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.

Morton Investigator, Medical Examiner Testimony Public

Testimony from the Williamson County sergeant who led the investigation that resulted in Michael Morton's wrongful conviction was made public Friday, along with statements of the medical examiner refuting allegations prosecutors made during the trial.

Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference in October 2011 after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife. Recently tested DNA indicates another man committed the 1986 killing.
Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference in October 2011 after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife. Recently tested DNA indicates another man committed the 1986 killing.

Ex Morton Prosecutor Loses Testimony Fight

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a request from former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson to keep him from providing testimony in an investigation of what led to the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.

Presiding Officer of the Texas Forensic Science Commission John Bradley during a commission meeting April 14th, 2011
Presiding Officer of the Texas Forensic Science Commission John Bradley during a commission meeting April 14th, 2011

Bradley Announces Special Prosecutor in Morton Case

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley this morning announced the appointment of the Texas Attorney General as special prosecutor in the Michael Morton case. A special grand jury is also being formed, he said.