Texas Attorneys Release Wrongful Imprisonment Report

By JUAN A. LOZANO | December 20, 2011

Attorneys for a Texas man who was wrongfully imprisoned nearly 25 years for his wife’s murder planned to release a report Monday detailing their probe into whether prosecutors at the man’s original trial suppressed evidence that could have supported his claims of innocence.

Michael Morton was freed in October after new DNA evidence indicated another man was responsible for killing his wife Christine, who was fatally beaten in her bed in August 1986 in their Central Texas home.

As part of an unusual agreement with Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, Morton’s lawyers were allowed to conduct an investigation into their claims that the original lead prosecutor in the case, Ken Anderson, concealed key facts from defense lawyers that could have changed the outcome of Morton’s 1987 trial.

During a court hearing Monday, Morton’s attorneys, Houston-based John Raley and the New York-based Innocence Project, were expected to discuss their findings, which will be part of a written report submitted to state District Judge Sid Harle.

Morton’s attorneys were to make several recommendations to Harle in the report. Morton, 57, was expected to be at the hearing while Anderson was not. Attorneys for Morton and Anderson declined to comment before Monday’s hearing.

While a Texas appeals court has declared Morton innocent, his exoneration was to be made official at the hearing.

Morton’s attorneys have alleged Anderson, who is now a state district judge, suppressed key facts from defense attorneys, including that the credit card of Morton’s wife was used after her death and statements from the couple’s then 3-year-old son that he witnessed the murder and his father wasn’t the killer. Morton was convicted on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to life in prison.

As part of the agreement with Bradley, Morton’s attorneys were allowed to question Anderson, another prosecutor in the case and a retired sheriff’s deputy who investigated the murder.

Anderson said he was sickened by what happened but believed prosecutors provided all necessary information to Morton’s attorneys.

The former prosecutor apologized to Morton but has said he believes there was no misconduct in the case.

Anderson has been a judge in Williamson County, where Morton was convicted, since 2002.

Last month, authorities arrested another man, Mark Alan Norwood, for the murder of Morton’s wife. Norwood is also linked to the slaying of another woman under chillingly similar circumstances while Morton was imprisoned – the 1988 beating death of Debra Masters Baker. The Austin Police Department said he is a suspect in the ongoing investigation of Baker’s death.

Investigators discovered the DNA connection between the two cases after Morton’s attorneys spent years fighting for additional testing of a bloody bandanna found near the Morton home.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.