Man Regains Freedom After Serving 25 Years For A Crime He Did Not Commit – 10/4/2011

US History |

Exactly this day in 2011, a man named Michael Morton, who had spent 25 years in prison for allegedly murdering his wife of seven years, has been discharged and acquitted after DNA report confirms his innocence. According to the report, the prosecutor in the case withheld evidence indicating that Morton was innocent.

Early afternoon of August 13, 1986, Christine Morton was found beaten to death in her bed by a neighbor in their Williamson County home in Texas near Austin, which she shared with Michael her husband a grocery store manager with their three-year-old son. Morton who has no criminal record or any history of violence was arrested after six weeks for her wife's murder. The prosecution argued that Morton killed his wife of seven years after she did not allow him to have sexual intercourse with her on the night of August 12, which was his 32nd birthday. Devastated Morton said he had nothing to with the death of his wife and that someone had slipped into their home and killed her after he left for work on the early hours of August 13. Furthermore, there was no physical evidence or witnesses that linked Morton to the crime, however, he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on February 17, 1987.

Morton's defense team did not gave up on the case, instead in 2005, asked the state to run a DNA test on various items found by police the day after the incident which include a blood-stained bandanna that was found at an abandoned construction site not too far from the Morton's home. Unfortunately, Williamson County district attorney blocked all request for testing of the bloodstained bandanna until 2010 when a Texas appeal court ordered that the bandanna be tested. During the summer of 2011, results from the test showed the bandanna contained Christine Morton's blood, hair and that of another man who used to work as a carpet layer in the Austin area as at the time of the killing named Mark Alan Norwood.

On October 4 2011, Michael became a free man. He was released from prison, and in December of the same year became acquitted. In January 2012, Alan Norwood, 57 was arrested for the murder of Christine Morton, and found guilty of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2013. In addition, the DNA evidence also showed that Norwood killed another woman named Debra Baker in 1988 whose death remained mysterious. Debra lived in another area not far from Norwood at the time of her death, and she was killed in her bed just like Christine Morton.

In October 2012, the State Bar of Texas filed a disciplinary petition against Ken Anderson the prosecutor in Morton's case (who later became a Texas district judge) for allegedly withdrawing evidences from Morton's attorneys. The evidence, which include a written transcript of an August 1986 taped recorded interview between Morton's mother-in-law and the case lead investigator, wherein she stated that the family's 3-year-old son told her that he witnessed his mother's murder and that his dad was not home at the time of the incident. In November 2013, after agreeing to settle the charges levied against him, Ken Anderson agreed to give up his law license, pay a fine of $500, complete 500 hours of community service and served 10 days in jail.

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Amanda Miller

Contributor & Chief Coffee Maker

Being from San Diego I have always gone to the Ocean and wrote my thoughts onto paper. Since a young girl writing has been my passion and now I love being creative with what I love. In school I started early writing for my middle school paper and have learned so much since then. I now have an opportunity to do what I love and work from home every day you can't beat it. I look forward to writing some great content for you all and to see the feedback I get in the process. My favorite topic is positive stories showing people helping others.