TX: Did prosecutors suppress evidence in Morton case?
Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:31
Did prosecutors suppress evidence in Morton case? Copyright 2012: Houston Chronicle Published 07:46 p.m., Friday, January 13, 2012 Opinion
Texas has the distinction of having more convicts exonerated on the basis of DNA evidence than any other state.
Forty-five individuals have been cleared of serious crimes in the last decade, including murder.
One of them is Michael Morton, who was sentenced to life in prison for the beating death of his wife in their Georgetown home in 1986.
Morton had no criminal record. There were no eyewitnesses or physical evidence to link him to the crime.
In 2010 after years of pleading by Morton, a court ordered DNA testing of evidence related to the crime. It connected a felon, Mark Norwood, to the murder of Christine Morton and to the murder of an Austin woman two years later. In October, Morton was released after serving 25 years behind bars.
How was former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson - now a state district judge - able to obtain a conviction? Morton's attorneys claim evidence that would have weakened the prosecution's case was suppressed.
Last month, visiting District Judge Sid Harle of San Antonio formally cleared Morton of the murder charge. Harle has yet to rule on Morton's request that he seek the establishment of a court of inquiry to determine whether evidence was withheld illegally in this case. Harle should rule affirmatively.
Anderson's prosecution resulted not only in a miscarriage of justice against Morton. It was also an injustice for Debra Masters Baker, the Austin woman who Norwood is suspected of killing after prosecutors blindly went after the wrong man and declared the Morton case closed.
The final report of the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions cited evidence that seven of the first 39 DNA exoneration cases in Texas "involved suppression of exculpatory evidence or other prosecutorial misconduct."
Why wasn't exculpatory evidence shared with the defense team or trial judge in the Morton case, as required by law?
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TX: Did prosecutors suppress evidence in Morton case? Petra.,Sat Jan 14 10:31