Michael Morton

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

GEORGETOWN — Former Williamson County State District Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton as a prosecutor, was sentenced to nine days in jail on Friday and will surrender his law license as part of a deal to resolve criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.

 Anderson entered into a comprehensive settlement involving all matters before the court. Those include a charge of criminal contempt tied to an accusation of failing to disclose evidence during Morton's 1987 trial, and the State Bar of Texas’ disciplinary case against Anderson over prosecutorial misconduct allegations. Charges of tampering with evidence were also dropped as part of the settlement.

Justin Dehn, Texas Tribune

Williamson County state district Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton in 1987, submitted a letter to Gov. Rick Perry on Monday resigning his position effective immediately.

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.

Andrew Weber for KUT News

Governor Rick Perry signed the Michael Morton Act this afternoon,  a law that will require prosecutors in criminal cases to share evidence with defense attorneys.

The Governor characterized Texas as a “law and order” state and that the new law will allow judicial process to be as transparent and as open as humanly possible when it goes into effect in September of this year.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

Update: The Texas House gave final passage to the bill on May 14, 2013, officially sending it to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry for his signature.


Original version:
The Texas House has voted to pass bills that would grant more rights to people when they’re suspected and even convicted of crimes. The votes took place on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brady vs. Maryland ruling, which established a suspect’s right to access evidence against him or her. 

Michael Morton spent about 25 years behind bars, wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. 

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

GEORGETOWN — A judge issued an arrest warrant for former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson Friday, after finding probable cause to believe Anderson withheld critical evidence in Michael Morton's 1987 murder trial. 

Judge Louis Sturns concluded his court of inquiry by charging Anderson, who is now a state district judge, with tampering with government records (a misdemeanor), tampering with physical evidence (a felony) and failing to comply with a judge's order to turn over such evidence, for which he could be held in “contempt of court.”

Sarah Lim

You might be familiar with the case of Michael Morton. He's the Georgetown, Texas man who spent more than 20 years in prison for killing his wife. But he didn't do it. And it was DNA testing that eventually freed him.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

The Texas Senate approved SB 1611 today, also known as the Michael Morton Act.

The bill would give defense attorneys access to evidence held by prosecutors. Texas is one of a few states to not have a statewide open file policy, though district attorneys in some Texas counties have practiced a form of open file policy.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

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.” 

The measure, Senate Bill 1611 by state Sens. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Robert Duncan, 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.

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

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.

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. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning. After last night, Austin’s looking at decreasing rain chances as the morning goes on, lessening from as much as 50 percent to just a slight chance. Sorry, that means no more hail

Lead Story: The sponsor of a bill heard in a Texas Senate committee yesterday says the measure is about protecting the health of women who are getting abortions. But opponents say it will just make abortions harder to get, especially in rural areas.

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Good morning! Austin’s in for another warm day, although not as hot as yesterday’s record highs: we can expect a high near 80 degrees and increasing cloud cover as the day continues, according to the National Weather Service.

Lead Story: Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of a man accused of killing Michael Morton’s wife in 1986.Morton was the Austin man who spent almost 25 years prison for his wife’s murder, before he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning this post-spring break Monday. Austin’s expecting record high temperatures approaching 90 degrees today. The National Weather Service says those high temperature make for elevated fire conditions, so be careful.

Lead Story: It’s one of the busiest days of the year at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, as many visitors in town for South by Southwest head home.

Spencer Selvidge

Mark Norwood, charged with the 1986 murder of Christine Morton — a crime that her husband, Michael Morton, was wrongfully convicted of — will go on trial Monday in San Angelo.

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.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Two years ago he was in prison serving a life sentence for murdering his wife. Today, Michael Morton received an apology for that wrongful conviction on the floor of the Texas Senate.

“I want to take this opportunity to give you a collective apology from the members sitting before you today,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. “The system failed you. We apologize and we thank you for being here and watching you for the remainder of your life make such a difference in others lives.”

Texas Tribune

Taking a lesson from the high-profile exoneration of Michael Morton, state Sen. John Whitmire, 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.

"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.

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin can expect continued chances for rain and highs in the 60s today.

Lead Story: Former Williamson County district attorney Ken Anderson has denied any misconduct in the case of Michael Morton, the man who was wrongfully convicted of his wife’s murder and spent 25 years in prison.

Anderson, now a judge in Georgetown, is facing allegations that as a prosecutor he hid evidence that would have proved Morton’s innocence.

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

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.

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. 

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin will see sunny and mild weather today with a high approaching 70 degrees. A band of severe thunderstorms is expected to blow in Saturday night.

Lead Story: In Georgetown, it’s day five of a court of inquiry seeking answers into the case of Michael Morton. Wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife, Morton spent 25 years behind bars before he was cleared by DNA evidence.

flickr.com/rutlo

Good morning. The National Weather Service says sunny and warm weather is the order of the day, with expected highs in the mid-70s.

Lead Story: Ten people have died in traffic accidents in Austin so far this year. That’s twice as many as this time last year.

The city has launched a survey as part of an effort to reverse that trend, looking for feedback on how to make Austin safer for cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. You can find the survey on the city’s website.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for another day of slightly-warmer-than-average temperatures today, with light sprinkles this morning.

Lead Story: A ruling is set be issued to today on whether the appropriation of state school funds is constitutional.

Over 600 Texas school districts sued the state after lawmakers slashed public funding and grant programs by $5.4 billion dollars in 2011.

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