Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune http://kut.org en Solitary Confinement Study Approved but Lacks Funding http://kut.org/post/solitary-confinement-study-approved-lacks-funding <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px;">Last year, lawmakers approved and Gov.<a data-tooltip="/directory/rick-perry/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/rick-perry/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);" title="">Rick Perry</a>&nbsp;signed a bill that requires a<a href="http://www.texastribune.org/2013/05/21/time-fading-bills-aimed-reducing-solitary-confinem/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);" target="_blank">detailed</a><a href="http://www.texastribune.org/2013/05/21/time-fading-bills-aimed-reducing-solitary-confinem/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);" target="_blank"> review</a>&nbsp;of the use of solitary confinement in Texas prisons.</p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px;">Four months after the measure became law, though, the committee charged with hiring an independent party to study solitary confinement in the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);" target="_blank">Texas Department of Criminal Justice</a>&nbsp;hasn’t met and has no intention to.</p><p> Tue, 07 Jan 2014 17:56:09 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune & Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 9496 at http://kut.org Solitary Confinement Study Approved but Lacks Funding Van de Putte To Announce Future Political Plans on Friday http://kut.org/post/van-de-putte-announce-future-political-plans-friday <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box;">Sources close to state Sen.&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/leticia-van-de-putte/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/leticia-van-de-putte/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);" title="">Leticia Van de Putte</a>, D-San Antonio, say she is poised to make an announcement on her political future on Friday. But the likely Democratic contender for lieutenant governor is expected to do what gubernatorial candidate&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/wendy-davis/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/wendy-davis/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);" title="">Wendy Davis</a>&nbsp;did: reveal a future date for a formal announcement.</span></p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 1.35;">“I can't think of somebody who would be a better lieutenant governor for Texas," Democratic consultant Glenn Smith said. "With her legislative experience, the deep care she has for Texas and its future, her work ethic, her honesty, I mean she’d be darn near perfect.”</span></p><p></p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 1.35;">If Van de Putte throws her name in, she'd be the only Democrat seeking the post currently held by Lt. Gov.&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/david-dewhurst/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/david-dewhurst/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);">David Dewhurst</a>, who is facing a Republican primary challenge from state Sen.&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/dan-patrick/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/dan-patrick/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);">Dan Patrick</a>, R-Houston, Land Commissioner&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/jerry-patterson/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/jerry-patterson/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);">Jerry Patterson</a>&nbsp;and Agriculture Commissioner&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/todd-staples/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/todd-staples/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);">Todd Staples</a>. &nbsp;</span></p><p> Thu, 14 Nov 2013 01:51:36 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune & Julian Aguilar, Texas Tribune 9185 at http://kut.org Van de Putte To Announce Future Political Plans on Friday Judge Ken Anderson Resigns Amid Ethics Lawsuit http://kut.org/post/judge-ken-anderson-resigns-amid-ethics-lawsuit <p></p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px; ">Williamson County state district Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton in 1987, submitted a&nbsp;<a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.texastribune.org/media/documents/Letter.pdf" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144); ">letter</a>&nbsp;to Gov.&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/rick-perry/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/rick-perry/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144); " title="">Rick Perry</a>&nbsp;on Monday resigning his position effective immediately.</p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px; ">Anderson is facing both civil and criminal court proceedings for his role in prosecuting Morton for the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine Morton. Attorneys for Morton allege that Anderson withheld critical evidence that pointed to Morton's innocence and that he lied to the judge about the existence of that evidence. Morton was sentenced to life in prison and spent nearly 25 years behind bars before DNA testing revealed that he was innocent and connected another man to his wife's killing. He was released from prison in 2011.</p><p> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 21:33:52 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 8776 at http://kut.org Judge Ken Anderson Resigns Amid Ethics Lawsuit Huffman Wants 'Michael Morton Act' to Add Restriction http://kut.org/post/huffman-wants-michael-morton-act-add-restriction <p></p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15.454545021057129px;">A fight over what defense lawyers can do with information about their clients in criminal cases after prosecutors turn it over to them is threatening to stymie the “Michael Morton Act.”&nbsp;</p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15.454545021057129px;">The measure,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.texastribune.org/session/83R/bills/SB1611/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);">Senate Bill 1611</a>&nbsp;by state Sens.&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/rodney-ellis/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/rodney-ellis/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);">Rodney Ellis</a>, D-Houston, and&nbsp;<a data-tooltip="/directory/robert-duncan/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/robert-duncan/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);" title="">Robert Duncan</a>, R-Lubbock, would require prosecutors to turn over evidence to defense lawyers in criminal cases. Currently, prosecutors aren't required to provide evidence to defense lawyers unless ordered to by the court, though many Texas prosecutors have some form of open file policy.</p><p> Tue, 09 Apr 2013 15:55:50 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 7277 at http://kut.org Huffman Wants 'Michael Morton Act' to Add Restriction Tears and Relief After Norwood Found Guilty http://kut.org/post/tears-and-relief-after-norwood-found-guilty <p></p><p></p><p>SAN ANGELO — Family members of Christine Morton and Debra Baker filled a Tom Green County courtroom with tearful hugs and relieved smiles on Wednesday after a jury found Mark Alan Norwood guilty of murder.</p><p>Norwood, 58, received an automatic life sentence after the jury decided he was guilty of the Aug. 13, 1986 killing of Christine Morton, who was beaten to death in her North Austin home.&nbsp;</p><p> Thu, 28 Mar 2013 16:00:11 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 7121 at http://kut.org Tears and Relief After Norwood Found Guilty Trial Switches Focus of Morton Case to Alleged Killer http://kut.org/post/trial-switches-focus-morton-case-alleged-killer <p>Mark Norwood, charged with the 1986 murder of Christine Morton — a crime that her husband, <a href="http://www.texastribune.org/tribpedia/michael-morton/">Michael Morton</a>, was wrongfully convicted of — will go on trial Monday in San Angelo.</p><p>Michael Morton had spent nearly a quarter-century behind bars before DNA testing exonerated him in 2011 and connected Norwood, a 58-year-old former Bastrop dishwasher, to the beating death.</p><p> Mon, 18 Mar 2013 12:12:00 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 6981 at http://kut.org Trial Switches Focus of Morton Case to Alleged Killer Whitmire Bill Aims to Improve Prosecutor Accountability http://kut.org/post/whitmire-bill-aims-improve-prosecutor-accountability <p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.35;">Taking a lesson from the high-profile exoneration of&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.texastribune.org/tribpedia/michael-morton/" style="font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.35; box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);">Michael Morton</a><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.35;">, state Sen.&nbsp;</span><a data-tooltip="/directory/john-whitmire/quicklook/" href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/john-whitmire/" style="font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.35; box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 137, 144);" title="">John Whitmire</a><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.35;">, D-Houston, filed a bill Tuesday that aims to ensure more accountability for prosecutors who are accused of withholding evidence that results in a wrongful conviction.</span></p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 15px;">"It's an effort to have accountability and transparency and to make the system more fair," Whitmire said, adding that he believes the measure will pass.</p><p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 19:08:27 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 6748 at http://kut.org Whitmire Bill Aims to Improve Prosecutor Accountability Ken Anderson's Testimony Caps Dramatic Inquiry http://kut.org/post/ken-andersons-testimony-caps-dramatic-inquiry <p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35;">Defiant, angry and frustrated, former prosecutor Ken Anderson took the stand on Friday to defend himself, ending a week of dramatic testimony in an usual court of inquiry that is examining whether the former district attorney committed criminal misconduct during the trial that led to the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton.</span></p><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif;">Morton was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for his wife’s murder, and he spent nearly 25 years behind bars before DNA evidence led to his exoneration in 2011. Lawyers for the exoneree contend that Anderson deliberately withheld critical evidence that could have prevented Morton’s wrongful conviction. Anderson adamantly denied any wrongdoing, and in his often impassioned testimony criticized the court of inquiry.&nbsp;</p><p> Sat, 09 Feb 2013 14:09:36 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 6537 at http://kut.org Ken Anderson's Testimony Caps Dramatic Inquiry Clearing Texas Rape Kit Backlog Brings Hefty Price Tag http://kut.org/post/clearing-texas-rape-kit-backlog-brings-hefty-price-tag <p></p><p>There are some 20,000 untested rape kits sitting on evidence shelves in police departments across Texas, the state Department of Public Safety estimates.</p><p>Each box with samples of hair, skin and clothing represents one of the worst moments of the victim’s life, a crime that was followed by hours in a doctor’s office submitting the most personal evidence.</p><p> Fri, 04 Jan 2013 18:11:02 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 6061 at http://kut.org Clearing Texas Rape Kit Backlog Brings Hefty Price Tag Court of Inquiry in Michael Morton Case Delayed http://kut.org/post/court-inquiry-michael-morton-case-delayed <p></p><p style="margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif;">GEORGETOWN — The court of inquiry that will determine whether the former prosecutor who oversaw the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton could face criminal charges will be delayed until Feb. 4, a prosecutor with the Texas attorney general’s office said Monday.</p> Mon, 26 Nov 2012 17:48:53 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 5722 at http://kut.org Court of Inquiry in Michael Morton Case Delayed Mark Norwood Indicted in Second Austin Murder http://kut.org/post/mark-norwood-indicted-second-austin-murder <p></p><p>Mark Norwood, the Bastrop dishwasher who was arrested one year ago for the 1986 murder of Christine Morton, was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on Friday for the January 1988 murder of Debra Masters Baker in Austin.</p><p>“It has been excruciating for all of us who loved Debra to wait for this day. Now, we finally have a face to put with her tragic murder,” Baker’s family said in a statement released by attorney Sam Bassett.</p><p>Norwood's attorney, Russell Hunt Jr., said his client maintains his innocence in both cases. Hunt said Norwood's mother had been subpoenaed to testify before a Travis County grand jury on Friday morning.&nbsp;</p><p>"There's only one reason why" that would happen, he said. "That's if they intend to indict him."</p><p> Fri, 09 Nov 2012 18:24:58 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 5599 at http://kut.org Mark Norwood Indicted in Second Austin Murder Judge in Ken Anderson Inquiry: Testimony Will Be Public http://kut.org/post/judge-ken-anderson-inquiry-testimony-will-be-public <p></p> Tue, 30 Oct 2012 19:37:58 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 5475 at http://kut.org Judge in Ken Anderson Inquiry: Testimony Will Be Public Williamson County Makes Arrest in 1980 Murder http://kut.org/post/williamson-county-makes-arrest-1980-murder <p></p><p>Williamson County sheriff&#39;s investigators have arrested Steven Alan Thomas, 53, in the 1980 murder of Mildred McKinney, the agency announced Tuesday.</p><p>McKinney was 73 when her daughter found her dead in her Williamson County duplex, where she lived alone. She had been beaten, strangled and raped. The murderer stacked a recliner, end table and vacuum cleaner on her head and chest.</p><p>The sheriff&#39;s office learned that DNA from the nearly 32-year-old murder scene matched Thomas on June 27, and additional&nbsp;testing of DNA collected from Thomas on July 5 also matched the DNA found at the murder scene. Analysis of a fingerprint from the scene of the murder also belonged to Thomas.&nbsp;</p><p> Tue, 24 Jul 2012 18:03:28 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 4750 at http://kut.org Williamson County Makes Arrest in 1980 Murder Texas Changing Its Lethal Injection Protocol http://kut.org/post/texas-changing-its-lethal-injection-protocol <p></p><p style="margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; ">Texas will join a handful of states that use a single drug in lethal injections, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Tuesday.&nbsp;</p> Tue, 10 Jul 2012 22:24:25 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 4659 at http://kut.org Texas Changing Its Lethal Injection Protocol State Backs DNA Testing for Hank Skinner http://kut.org/post/state-backs-dna-testing-hank-skinner <p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; ">Reversing its decade-long objection to testing that death row inmate Hank Skinner says could prove his innocence, the Texas Attorney General&#39;s office today filed an advisory with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals seeking to test DNA in the case.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; ">&quot;Upon further consideration, the State believes that the interest of justice would best be served by DNA testing the evidence requested by Skinner and by testing additional items identified by the state,&quot; lawyers for the state wrote in the advisory.</p><p style="margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; ">Skinner, now 50, was convicted in 1995 of the strangulation and beating death of his girlfriend Twila Busby and the stabbing deaths of her two adult sons on New Year&rsquo;s Eve 1993 in Pampa. Skinner maintains he is innocent and was unconscious on the couch at the time of the killings, intoxicated from a mixture of vodka and codeine.</p><p> Fri, 01 Jun 2012 21:29:30 +0000 Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 4388 at http://kut.org State Backs DNA Testing for Hank Skinner