Michael Morton, a man with no arrests, convictions, or history of violence against anyone, spent twenty-five years in a Texas prison after being convicted of his wife’s murder in 1989.
In 2011, due to efforts of the Innocence Project and a Houston law firm, DNA testing on crime scene evidence was conducted, testing that had been opposed by the District Attorney of Williamson County. The DNA testing results, when ran through the CODIS databank, matched that of a convicted criminal from California who had lived in Texas at the time of Morton’s wife’s death.
Morton’s lawyers at this time filed a Public Information Act request and ultimately obtained other documents that had been withheld at Morton’s trial, documents that showed their client did not murder his wife. With the discovery of this new evidence, Morton was released from prison on October 4, 2011, and was officially exonerated on December 19, 2011.
Morton’s defense team also requested an inquiry into possible misconduct by former Williamson County District attorney, Ken Anderson, the prosecutor of the Morton murder case.
A Texas court ruled on April 19 that Ken Anderson will face criminal contempt and tampering charges for failing to turn over evidence that could have proved the innocence of Michael Morton. A Texas judge ruled Anderson violated three criminal laws by concealing evidence in the case, evidence that could have prevented Morton’s wrongful conviction for the murder of his wife.
According to the court’s findings, Anderson knew of evidence supporting Morton’s innocence, but intentionally failed to turn this evidence over to the defense. At his trial, Morton’s defense attorneys suspected the prosecution might be concealing potentially exculpatory evidence and raised the issue with the judge. However, at that time, the prosecution assured the court that all favorable evidence had been given to the defense as required by law.
Anderson, who is now a Judge in Williamson County, was taken to Williamson County jail for processing after the court hearing and is expected to be released on bond.