Michael Morton

Texas
11:48 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Court of Inquiry in Michael Morton Case Delayed

Judge Ken Anderson (l) and Michael Morton (r)
Justin Dehn / Callie Richmond via Texas Tribune

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.

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Crime
12:24 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Mark Norwood Indicted in Second Austin Murder

A booking photo of Mark Norwood.

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.

“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.

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. 

"There's only one reason why" that would happen, he said. "That's if they intend to indict him."

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Texas
8:05 am
Fri October 5, 2012

26 Years Later: Exonerated Citizen Michael Morton Reflects

Exonerated citizen Michael Morton speaks to an attentive audience at the Texas Capitol.
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Former Williamson County resident Michael Morton was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife. Then 25 years later, he was freed after DNA evidence showed he was not guilty.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Morton’s release. He spoke at the Texas Capitol about his experiences over the past 26 years, and the difficulties the Williamson County justice system presented in obtaining the evidence that eventually exonerated him.  

Morton told the audience: 

The odd thing about it is that The Innocence Project was willing to say “Look. Texas statute allows this. We will pay for all the expenses.  Just let us have it and we’ll do it." And for reasons that haven’t been elaborated on or maybe articulated, to mine or anyone else’s satisfaction that I’m aware of, is that they fought this. And fought this. And fought this.

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Crime
1:03 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Williamson County Makes Arrest in 1980 Murder

Williamson County Sheriffs Office

Williamson County sheriff's investigators have arrested Steven Alan Thomas, 53, in the 1980 murder of Mildred McKinney, the agency announced Tuesday.

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.

The sheriff's office learned that DNA from the nearly 32-year-old murder scene matched Thomas on June 27, and additional 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. 

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Williamson County
4:36 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Morton Case is Focus of Williamson County DA Race

County Attorney Jana Duty is challenging District Attorney John Bradley for his position in Williamson County.
Photo illustration by Brandi Grissom and Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Michael Morton’s name isn’t on the ballot, and he isn’t endorsing anyone in what has become a nasty campaign to become the next district attorney in tough-on-crime Williamson County. 

But his wrongful conviction is the central issue in the GOP primary fight between incumbent District Attorney John Bradley — who spent five years opposing DNA testing that ultimately exonerated Morton — and County Attorney Jana Duty.

While Morton may be staying out of the fray, many close to his case have decided to get involved, hoping, they say, to change the way justice is meted out in Williamson County by urging voters to hold Bradley accountable.

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AM Update
8:32 am
Thu March 29, 2012

AM Update: 'Texan' Apologizes For Trayvon Martin Cartoon, See Michael Morton, Artz Rib House Closes

Following increased scrutiny and protest, The Daily Texan issued a formal apology for running a controversial editorial cartoon about Trayvon Martin
Image courtesy dailytexanonline.com

Texan Issues Formal Apology for Trayvon Martin Cartoon

The editors from The Daily Texan issued an apology regarding the controversial Trayvon Martin cartoon the paper published on Tuesday.

The cartoonist, Stephanie Eisner, no longer works for the paper.

In their apology, the student editors admit to showing “a failure in judgment.” Yesterday the editors of the Texan met with angry students and protestors to discuss the paper’s decision to publish the cartoon and the editorial team’s oversight in recognizing the sensitive nature of the cartoon.

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Texas
12:45 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Rusty Hardin Picked For Prosecutor In Morton Case

Michael Morton hearing on February 10, 2012 at the Williamson Co. Courthouse.
Photo by: Spencer Selvidge/Texas Tribune

Houston criminal defense lawyer Rusty Hardin will be the special prosecutor in the court of inquiry looking into possible misconduct in the case of Michael Morton, who was wrongfully convicted in 1987 of bludgeoning his wife to death. 

This won't be Hardin's first high-profile case. The former Harris County prosecutor has represented Roger Clemens, J. Howard Marshall's estate in the Anna Nicole Smith lawsuit, and, during the Enron scandal, accounting firm Arthur Andersen. 

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Texas
2:09 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

State Seeks Gag Order in 1986 Murder Case

Mark Norwood being led into court for the first time on Jan. 18th 2011. He is charged with the 1986 murder of Christine Morton.
Photo by Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

GEORGETOWN — Attorneys for the Texas attorney general's office today asked Williamson County state district Judge Burt Carnes to issue a gag order in the case of Mark Alan Norwood, the 57-year-old Bastrop resident who is facing trial in the 1986 murder of Christine Morton.

"There exists an ongoing serious and imminent threat to the integrity of the administration of justice in these causes as a result of such extrajudicial statements," Assistant Attorney General Lisa Tanner wrote in the motion seeking to silence parties in the case.

Judge Barnes said he would take the motion under advisement.

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Texas
12:39 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Ft Worth Judge To Lead Ken Anderson Court of Inquiry

Michael Morton hearing on February 10, 2012 at the Williamson Co. Courthouse.
Photo by Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

Tarrant County state district Judge Louis Sturns will lead a court of inquiry to investigate allegations of criminal prosecutorial misconduct against former prosecutor Ken Anderson, who saw to the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton in 1987.

Morton was exonerated of his wife's 1986 bludgeoning death in October after DNA tests confirmed his innocence. Defense lawyers have alleged that the wrongful conviction would not have happened and Morton would not have lost 25 years in prison if Anderson, who is now a Williamson County judge, had not deliberately withheld evidence that indicated his innocence at the time of the 1987 trial.

“This is a historic moment for Texas justice," said John Raley, the Houston lawyer who has worked pro bono on Morton's case for seven years. "We are confident that Judge Sturns will handle this important case with the seriousness and probity demonstrated by Judge [Sid] Harle and [Texas Supreme Court] Justice [Wallace] Jefferson.”

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Austin
4:34 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Judge Orders Court of Inquiry for Morton Prosecutor

Photo by Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

GEORGETOWN — Judge Sid Harle said today he will recommend that Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson convene a court of inquiry to review a slew of evidence against former Williamson County prosecutor Ken Anderson and determine whether there is probable cause to press criminal charges of prosecutorial misconduct related to his work in 1987 to secure a wrongful murder conviction that sent Michael Morton to prison for life.

In addition to allowing a full public airing of the evidence, the Bexar County state district judge said the unique legal proceeding would allow Anderson, who is now a district judge, the opportunity to clear his name.

“The only method and venue I know of for that to occur and for Mr. Morton’s interests to be served” is a court of inquiry, Harle said.

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Texas
6:07 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Williamson County Grand Jury Indicts Mark Norwood

Mark Alan Norwood was indicted by a Williamson County grand jury for the murder of Christine Morton in 1986.
Photo by Spencer Selvidge/Texas Tribune

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.

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Texas
1:43 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Michael Morton Cleared, Seeks Inquiry

Photo by Callie Richmond/Courtesy of The Texas Tribune. Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison.

Michael Morton's attorneys today presented a 138-page report that asked the court to investigate the lead prosecutor, Ken Anderson, who sent Morton to prison for nearly 25 years for the murder of his wife. Morton's attorneys said the State Bar of Texas and the state's judicial ethics commission should consider punishment against Anderson, who was the Williamson County District Attorney at the time, for prosecutorial misconduct during trial.

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Central Texas
10:01 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Lawyer Group Files Grievances in Morton Case

Judge and former prosecutor Ken Anderson speaks about the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.
Photo by Justin Dehn, Texas Tribune

The Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability filed grievances with the State Bar of Texas on Monday against former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, his former assistant Mike Davis and current District Attorney John Bradley, alleging that the prosecutors violated state laws and professional ethics in the case against Michael Morton.

Morton was released last month after spending nearly 25 years in prison, wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife in 1986. Morton's lawyers have discovered that prosecutors did not turn over to defense attorneys or the trial judge evidence that pointed to another man as the murderer and could have prevented the wrongful conviction.

The State Bar would not confirm receipt of the grievances, but the agency said last month that it had launched its own investigation of prosecutorial misconduct in the case. Morton's lawyers are also pursuing their own investigation of alleged wrongdoing.

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central texas
4:48 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

Former Morton Prosecutor Apologizes for “System’s Failure”

Former Williamson County prosecutor Ken Anderson as he was about to testify last month about how Michael Morton was wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife
Photo by Texas Tribune

The former Williamson County District Attorney who helped secure a 25-year sentence for Michael Morton for a crime he didn’t commit apologized today and suggested he has been wracked with guilt. Ken Anderson, now a Williamson County district judge, held a last minute press conference this afternoon.

“I don’t know how strong I can say this,” he said on a live stream of the news conference that we watched on KXAN’s website. “If there’s anybody who’s confused about whether I’m beating myself up and whether I’m absolutely sick about this case, you’re wrong, because I am.”

But Anderson stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing, adding that, “I’m apologizing for the system’s failure.”

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News Brief
5:36 am
Thu October 27, 2011

Top Morning Stories October 27, 2011

An administrative hearing will be held Thursday for Major Nidal Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter.
Photo by KUT News.

Hasan Court Hearing Today

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled this morning for the accused Fort Hood shooter. A military judge will hear two motions brought forward by Major Nidal Hasan's defense. The defense is asking whether Hasan is entitled to certain expert assistance at the government's expense. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder for the shootings at Fort Hood in November 2009. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Former Morton Prosecutor to Testify

Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson will have to provide testimony in an investigation into whether alleged misconduct by his office led to the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has denied Anderson's request to void a subpoena requiring him to answer question's from Morton's lawyers.

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Crime
11:28 am
Fri October 21, 2011

From Botched Morton Case, Hope Emerges in Cold Inquiry

Almost everything that Caitlin and Jesse Baker know about their mother, who was mysteriously murdered 23 years ago when they were small children, comes from memories shared by relatives and from fading family photos of the smiling, petite brunette.

Over the years, aunts and uncles told them stories about their protective and generous sister. Their father recalled the loving wife who seemed to live in her pink sweat suit. Their grandmother shared pictures of their mother’s favorite horse, Molly, and tattered newspaper clippings of articles she wrote as a student journalist.

But no one has been able to answer the question that has tormented the Baker children for years: Who entered their North Austin home on Jan. 13, 1988, and beat Debra Masters Baker to death?

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Texas
4:24 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Morton Conviction Reversed

Today the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to overturn Morton's conviction.
Photo by Keith Burtis/http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithburtis/

Last Tuesday, Michael Morton walked out of jail a free man after being declared innocent of his wife's murder in 1986. After an independent review, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals announced today that it has approved the agreement to reverse Morton's conviction. The agreement was jointly presented by Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, and Morton's attorneys.

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