A Williamson County grand jury today returned a capital murder indictment against 57-year-old Bastrop resident Mark Alan Norwood in the 1986 murder of Christine Morton, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced.
“An indictment in a cold case cannot bring back the life that was unnecessarily taken, but this is a big step toward answering long unresolved questions for the crime victim’s family,” Abbott said in a press release.
Christine Morton's husband, Michael Morton, was wrongfully convicted of her murder in 1987 and served 25 years of a life sentence in prison. DNA testing confirmed that Christine Morton's blood was mixed with Norwood's hair on a blue bandana found about 100 yards from their north Austin home, where she was killed. Further DNA tests linked Norwood to the murder of Debra Masters Baker, another Austin woman who was killed in a very similar manner in 1988.
Michael Morton was released from prison in October after his lawyers presented Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley with testing results that linked Norwood to both murders. Norwood is considered a suspect in the Baker murder, but has not been charged with that crime.
Norwood's lawyer, Russell Hunt Jr., has said that his client is innocent of both killings and that he plans to fight the murder charge.
The grand jury indictment charges Norwood with one count of capital murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit burglary. If he is convicted, Norwood could face life in prison without parole or the death penalty.