November, 11th, 2011
(Originally ran 10/5/11) An Austin, Texas man walked free from prison today after serving 25 years for a crime that he didn’t commit. In 1986, Michael Morton was convicted for beating his wife to death after allegedly becoming enraged when she refused to have sex with him. Morton’s conviction rested on circumstantial evidence.
DNA tests conducted this summer on a bloody bandana found near the crime scene implicated another man who was involved in a similar murder in 1988 – after Morton was already behind bars. The Innocence Project discovered through the Texas Public Information Act that the county district attorney, John Bradley, suppressed evidence that could have been helpful to Morton’s team, including a police interview transcript in which Morton’s son said that his father was not the attacker. Nina Morrison, an attorney with the Innocence Project, said that they had identified six instances where prosecutors and investigators hid non-DNA evidence from Morton’s defense attorney that could have been exculpatory during the original trial. Morton had consistently maintained his innocence.
Read the Los Angeles Times story here.
UPDATE (11/11/11)– The case of Michael Morton took on a new twist on Wednesday when police arrested Mark Alan Norwood, 57, and charged him with the murder of Christine Morton in 1986. The Innocence Project fought for DNA testing on a bloody bandana found near the Morton’s home on the day of the murder. DNA results cleared Michael Morton and implicated another man. The DNA also linked this unknown male to the eerily similar murder of Debra Masters Baker that occurred two years after Morton’s murder. Norwood is now being considered a suspect in the 1988 murder of Debra Masters Baker as well.