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Thu Nov 29, 2012, 04:30 PM

Texas Prosecutor faces justice over man wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 25 years

Incredible story... caution, this is a long read...

On August 13, 1986, Michael Morton came home from work to discover that his wife had been brutally murdered in their bed. His nightmare had only begun.

During the 25 years that Michael Morton spent wrongfully imprisoned for murdering his wife, he kept three things in mind: Someday he would prove his innocence to their son. Someday he would find out who had killed her. And someday he would understand how this had happened to him.

On April 12, 1987, Michael Morton sat down to write a letter. 
“Your Honor,” he began, “I’m sure you remember me. I was convicted of murder, in your court, in February of this year.” He wrote each word carefully, sitting cross-legged on the top bunk in his cell at the Wynne prison unit, in Huntsville. “I have been told that you are to decide if I am ever to see my son, Eric, again. I haven’t seen him since the morning that I was convicted. I miss him terribly and I know that he has been asking about me.” Referring to the declarations of innocence he had made during his trial, he continued, “I must reiterate my innocence. I did NOT kill my wife. You cannot imagine what it is like to lose your wife the way I did, then to be falsely accused and convicted of this terrible crime. First, my wife and now possibly, my son! Sooner or later, the truth will come out. The killer will be caught and this nightmare will be over. I pray that the sheriff’s office keeps an open mind. It is no sin to admit a mistake. No one is perfect in the performance of their job. I don’t know what else to say except I swear to God that I did NOT kill my wife. Please don’t take my son from me too.”
His windowless concrete cell, which he shared with another inmate, measured five by nine feet. If he extended his arms, he could touch the walls on either side of him. A small metal locker that was bolted to the wall contained one of the few remnants he still possessed from his previous life: a photograph of Eric when he was three years old, taken shortly before the murder. The boy was standing in the backyard of their house in Austin, playing with a wind sock, grabbing the streamers that fluttered behind it in the breeze. There was a picture too of his late wife, Christine—a candid shot Michael had taken of her years earlier, with her hair pinned up, still wet from a bath. She was looking away from the camera, but she was smiling slightly, her fingers pressed against her mouth. The crime-scene photos were still fresh in Michael’s mind, but if he focused on the snapshot, the horror of those images abated. Christine with damp hair, smiling—this was how he wanted to remember her.

Part 1 http://www.texasmonthly.com/2012-11-01/feature2.php

Part 2 http://www.texasmonthly.com/2012-12-01/feature2.php


The short version...

A Texas Prosecutor Faces Justice
By JOE NOCERA
Published: November 12, 2012 214 Comments

In just about a month from now, Texas will witness a rare event: a former prosecutor is going to be held to account for alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

He is Ken Anderson, who for nearly 17 years was the district attorney in Williamson County, a fast-growing suburb of Austin. (In 2002, Gov. Rick Perry made him a district judge.) As Pamela Colloff writes, in a brilliant two-part series in Texas Monthly, Anderson was the kind of prosecutor who “routinely asked for, and won, harsh sentences and fought to keep offenders in prison long after they became eligible for parole.”

One of Anderson’s most high-profile prosecutions was of a man named Michael Morton. In 1987, Anderson prosecuted him for a heinous crime: His wife, Christine, was bludgeoned to death. Morton was then in his early 30s, with a 3-year-old son and a job at Safeway. He had never been in trouble. Yet the Williamson County sheriff, Jim Boutwell, from whom Anderson took his cues, was convinced that Morton had committed the crime.

Evidence that could be used against him — such as a plaintive note Morton wrote to his wife after she fell asleep when he was hoping to have sex — was highlighted. Evidence that suggested his innocence — most importantly, a blood-stained bandana discovered near Morton’s house — was ignored. Worst of all, Anderson’s office hid from the defense some crucial evidence that would undoubtedly have caused the jury to find Morton not guilty. By the time Morton was sentenced — to life — only his parents and a single co-worker believed he was innocent.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/opinion/nocera-a-texas-prosecutor-faces-justice.html

49 replies, 4748 views

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Reply Texas Prosecutor faces justice over man wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 25 years (Original post)
True Earthling Nov 2012 OP
ret5hd Nov 2012 #1
A HERETIC I AM Nov 2012 #2
Poll_Blind Nov 2012 #8
liberalhistorian Nov 2012 #13
Ikonoklast Nov 2012 #20
rudycantfail Nov 2012 #29
BanzaiBonnie Nov 2012 #31
Ikonoklast Nov 2012 #42
Adsos Letter Nov 2012 #48
trublu992 Nov 2012 #27
rudycantfail Nov 2012 #28
hootinholler Nov 2012 #3
Angry Dragon Nov 2012 #4
liberalhistorian Nov 2012 #15
Angry Dragon Nov 2012 #19
LondonReign2 Nov 2012 #37
EOTE Nov 2012 #5
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #7
liberalhistorian Nov 2012 #14
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #22
Blue_Tires Nov 2012 #34
barbtries Nov 2012 #33
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #36
barbtries Nov 2012 #40
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #41
struggle4progress Nov 2012 #6
Poll_Blind Nov 2012 #9
99Forever Nov 2012 #10
Liberal_in_LA Nov 2012 #11
The Wizard Nov 2012 #12
Egalitarian Thug Nov 2012 #16
NotThisTime Nov 2012 #17
1gobluedem Nov 2012 #18
Hamlette Nov 2012 #21
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #23
DonRedwood Nov 2012 #24
BanzaiBonnie Nov 2012 #32
Hamlette Nov 2012 #38
Incitatus Nov 2012 #25
Nay Nov 2012 #26
DiverDave Nov 2012 #30
leftynyc Nov 2012 #35
Uncle Joe Nov 2012 #39
kossp Nov 2012 #43
HughBeaumont Nov 2012 #44
Manifestor_of_Light Nov 2012 #45
gollygee Nov 2012 #46
Adsos Letter Nov 2012 #47
flying rabbit Nov 2012 #49

Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 04:56 PM

1. Life...the only acceptable sentence for this SOB.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 04:57 PM

2. If a district attorney or prosecutor has it in for you

You're screwed.

They can completely ruin your life with rarely any repercussions.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 06:06 PM

8. I have to say, after all the years of news I've read...I believe you. nt

PB

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 07:27 PM

13. And as someone who was once in the legal support

field and who's married to an attorney, I can unequivocally attest to the brutal truth of what you're saying. No one should have rose-colored glasses on when it comes to our justice system. It's run by humans, and humans have agendas, biased beliefs, prejudices, hunger for power; they're also error-prone and loath to admit such errors, especially publicly. They are also as subject to emotion and pressure as anyone else, and when emotions run high in a community regarding a murder and they face pressure to solve it as well as biases regarding suspects, even if those suspects had nothing to do with it and there's no evidence of their involvement (racial, ethnic, class and social biases play a special role here), that's when they will really fuck up and then dig in. The power DA's have is almost unlimited, especially since they enjoy automatic esteem and belief in the community, whereas defense attorneys and those who believe suspects do not at all enjoy that.

All it takes to fall into the kind of nightmare that this husband found himself in is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Period. NO ONE is immune, trust me on that. Particularly if you're of the wrong race, ethnicity or class.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #13)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 09:29 PM

20. Never, ever, ever TALK TO THE POLICE. EVER.

They are not there to 'help you', they are there to find someone to arrest.

Always, always, always get an attorney before you say anything other than your name.

People think that the truth will always come out.

An asshole DA will invent the truth.

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Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #20)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:21 PM

29. +1

 

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Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #20)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 09:36 AM

31. While I have never denegrated the police to my children or grandchildren...

I have explained to them on numerous occasions, in plain terms, not to talk to police without representation.

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Response to BanzaiBonnie (Reply #31)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 01:31 PM

42. I had my kids watch this:

A law school professor and former criminal defense attorney tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.



Well worth watching, everyone should see this with their kids.

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Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #42)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 04:14 PM

48. Excellent video and advice. Worth the time to watch.

Thanks for posting it. Interesting that it was done at Regent University, which Pat Robertson founded.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #13)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 10:57 PM

27. Fanned and Faved

They should be teaching this to young children instead of the Officer Friendly crap they push, double if you in a community of color or poor, middle class or breathing!

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #13)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:20 PM

28. +1

 

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 05:05 PM

3. Kick for later. n/t

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 05:47 PM

4. Anderson belongs in prison for at least 25 years and

to give a large sum of money to Morton

until people like him get the same kind of justice they hand out they will never learn

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 07:30 PM

15. He should not only be imprisoned, he should

forfeit his entire government pension and benefits to his victim.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #15)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 08:41 PM

19. I could live with that

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #4)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:11 PM

37. On thing that struck me was

Anderson's being described as "very black and white" about everything. We know that that is a telling characteristic of conservatives, the inability to deal with anything ambiguous.

And surprise surprise, he was one of Prick Perry's favorites and was appointed as a judge by the stupid ass Perry.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 05:54 PM

5. The fucker needs to spend life in prison.

And a substantial portion of his assets need to go to Morton. Because of this asshole's misconduct, a murderer went free to kill again. He's just as guilty of the murder as the murderer himself. Prosecutors like this make me sick to my stomach. They're a worse scourge on the country than the most despicable, murderous thug out there.

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Response to EOTE (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 06:05 PM

7. It's when I read stories like this that I question my opposition to

 

capital punishment. Surely, if we must have a death penalty, it needs to be available to punish those who UNDER COLOR OF AUTHORITY deprive the innocent of their liberty all the while proclaiming they are "tough on crime."

Put that sonofabitch DA on trial for his life and make him beg not to be sentenced to death.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 07:29 PM

14. You would be horrified to know

just how many prosecutors put people on death row whom they either know are innocent or have reason to suspect their guilt, all so they can rack up a conviction or don't have to publicly admit a mistake. The case of Jesse Tafero in Florida is one execution that immediately comes to mind. That prosecutor should have been imprisoned for life for murder, frankly.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #14)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 10:18 PM

22. There's so much horror in this world, what's a little more to throw into the pot? Thanks

 

for your post. Antonin Artaud doesn't hold a candle to contemporary American society.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #14)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 11:17 AM

34. Yeah, there are too many prosecutors who face zero consequences

even when their case-rigging or evidence tampering comes to light...We've discussed several of them in the Af'ram forum

This is sadly a result of so many voters wanting "tough-on-crime" politicians...

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #7)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 10:11 AM

33. consider

that the man who was imprisoned long enough to be exonerated never would have been had he been put to death.

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Response to barbtries (Reply #33)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:01 PM

36. I know. I actually have been involved off and on again with the anti-death penalty

 

movement out here in California. I made my suggestion that the D.A. in this case face the death penalty out of frustration with the way gross miscarriages of justice are routinely sloughed off and our charnel house system just keeps chugging along.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #36)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:51 PM

40. yeah, i can relate to that.

i've often thought that child rapists should experience the same thing their victims did, except with a telephone pole. but it's not really me...

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Response to barbtries (Reply #40)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:57 PM

41. Goya and Bosch would have a field day painting the horrors and depredations

 

of contemporary America. I'd post more, except there's a contingent here bound and determined to convict me of 'excessive negativity'.

Out here in California, the actor Mike Farrell (of "MASH" fame) has lent his name and stature to the anti death-penalty movement. Mike F. speaks for me.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 06:04 PM

6. kick

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 06:07 PM

9. Anyone who hasn't should watch the documentary The Thin Blue Line.

Amazing to see how a guy was railroaded in that thing. The documentary eventually got him released from jail. The prosecutor was an evil SOB.

PB

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 06:36 PM

10. Thanks for posting this.

The sad message I get, is that pursuing charges against prosecutors who have committed the CRIME of misconduct in these cases, is rare, and worse, we all know that even if the dirtbag is convicted, he'll never do a day in jail over it. It will just prove one more time that the wealthy have no responsibility or liability for the evil they do.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 07:02 PM

11. I wish I could rec this thread a 1000 times.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 07:25 PM

12. A friend

who has since passed, did 13 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. The prosecutors in the case withheld exculpatory evidence and the Supreme Court ruled in his favor for a new trial, one in which he was found not guilty.
One of the prosecutors became a Superior Court judge and others won promotions. State law prohibits penalizing prosecutors from actions or inactions in executing the duties of office.
We have an adversarial justice system that demands each side presents the most vigorous case possible. Because prosecutors are promoted or continue on the job depends on convictions, not justice.
With the resources of the State such as funding and jail house "witnesses" willing to lie under oath for time off their sentences, defendants are often wrongfully convicted.
Sometimes prosecutors just have to get a conviction to stay employed.
He was never compensated for the time in prison for a wrongful prosecution and conviction.
Perhaps we'd be better served with an inquisitorial system in which learned judges listen to all arguments and confer to determine legal outcomes.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 07:48 PM

16. A blind pig roams in Texas today. K&R n/t

 

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 08:24 PM

17. Michael Morton is an incredible man and this POS judge ought to spend 25 years in jail

He's a sick SOB to so blatantly taint our justice system. Justice was blind to Michael Morton, and to the woman who was killed by the same man 2 years after Christine. It's sick... just sick.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 08:36 PM

18. This story is going to stay with me for a long time

Chilling

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 09:40 PM

21. kick

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 10:19 PM

23. Emphatic K&R! - n/t

 

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 10:44 PM

24. It took me a while to get it all read... HOLY COW. Thanks for making me cry

That was an incredibly moving story. Thank you for sharing it.

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Response to DonRedwood (Reply #24)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 09:39 AM

32. YEs, that was a long read.

But I read it to the end. We are all witnesses now to what happened.

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Response to BanzaiBonnie (Reply #32)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:18 PM

38. and very much worth it

finally just finished it, so many lives were impacted by this, Eric's, Marylee, the whole family. To realize you'd been lied to and as Michael said, to what end? Why did they do it?

I know it happens all the time but geez....

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 10:48 PM

25. I wonder how many other people he did that to.

This puts into question everyone he's ever convicted. That could be a mess. The scumbag should be sentenced to life.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 10:55 PM

26. Such stories always remind me of the 60 Minutes story on Lenell Jeter, railroaded into prison

for robbing a fast food joint. Get this: he was an engineer, black, and ONE OF THE PATRONS AT THE RESTAURANT WAS A COWORKER who said the robber was not Mr. Jeter. The only thing that got Mr. Jeter off was the damning 60 Minutes story. Shameful.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:51 AM

30. What are we if we have no justice?

eom

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 11:25 AM

35. Unless this cretin serves 25 years

it most certainly is not justice.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:33 PM

39. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, True Earthling.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 01:43 PM

43. This is just so sad and wrong.

 

Because of police and prosecutorial misconduct, this innocent man spent 25 years of his life in prison, missing his son growing up, missing his freedom.
The prosecutor, Ken Anderson, needs to spend just as much time in prison as did Michael Morton and also lose his pension to Mr. Morton, and if the cop, Jim Boutwell, were still alive, he should be spending 25 years of his life in prison along with the lead investigator, Woods.

I wish I could say that this is an isolated case, but it is becoming more evident each passing day that this is a daily occurrence and there are probably thousands of innocent people in prison because of police and prosecutor corruption.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 01:54 PM

44. Reminds me of this guy . . .

http://www.cleveland.com/brett/blog/index.ssf/2012/01/joe_dambrosio_finally_free_spe.html

UNbelievable. Ken Anderson should rot in a cell for the remainder of his life. And if there's a hell, Jim Boutwell is rotting in it.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 02:36 PM

45. Barry Scheck is doing noble work with The Innocence Project.

They elected a black DA in Dallas, and old evidence was DNA tested, and over 100 people from Dallas County have been exonerated. People are shocked at the railroading that goes on, and the innocent people jailed, but I'm not.

Dallas County once had an SOB district attorney named Henry Wade.
You may have heard of him, as in "Roe versus Wade".

Rusty Hardin will be an excellent prosecutor in the court of inquiry. I knew him when I was working as a court reporter in Houston.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 02:52 PM

46. This is where "look really tough on crime" gets us

Prosecutors should be looking for JUSTICE, not looking to appear tough on crime.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 03:21 PM

47. To any who haven't already done so:

Take the time to read the two-part Texas Monthly article. This is an exceptionally well written piece.

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Response to True Earthling (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 04:22 PM

49. Wow! Good read.

I hope that SOB gets what he deserves.

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