Michael Morton was wrongfully convicted in 1987 of murdering his wife, Christine. After serving nearly 25 years in prison, he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011.
Christine Morton was at home, asleep, when she was bludgeoned to death in the early morning hours of August 13, 1986. An investigation by the Williamson County sheriff’s department quickly zeroed in on Michael as the suspect. Though he had no criminal record, no history of violence, and no obvious motive, he was arrested six weeks later. Michael always maintained his innocence, insisting that nothing had been amiss when he left for work at 5:30 a.m. on the morning of the crime. In February of 1987, a jury convicted Michael of murder after hearing a case based entirely on circumstantial evidence and a faulty estimate regarding the time that Christine was killed. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In 2005, the Innocence Project took on Michael’s case. For five years, his attorneys requested that Williamson County conduct DNA testing on a bloody bandana that had been discovered behind the Morton home the day after the murder. An appellate court ordered that the testing go forward in 2010. The following year, DNA testing detected Christine’s blood intermingled with the DNA of an unknown male, who was later identified as a Bastrop dishwasher named Mark Alan Norwood. Michael’s DNA was absent from the bandana. Michael was released from prison on October 3, 2011, and was subsequently exonerated. Norwood was arrested later that fall and indicted for Christine’s murder.
An investigation conducted by the Innocence Project showed that Williamson County had been in possession of several documents that suggested that Michael was innocent. They included a transcript of a conversation between Christine’s mother and an investigator regarding comments that the Mortons’ three-year-old son, Eric, had made about witnessing the murder. Eric had insisted that his father was not present during the killing and that a man with a “big mustache” had murdered his mother. Former D.A. Ken Anderson was subsequently the subject of a 2013 inquiry into whether or not he withheld evidence from the defense and broke the law. A ruling is expected shortly.
On March 27, 2013, Norwood was found guilty of Christine’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.
The Guilty and the Innocent
Pamela Colloff on holding prosecutors accountable.
Jail Time May Be the Least of Ken Anderson’s Problems
What will an independent audit of Anderson’s old criminal cases turn up?
The Guilty Man
Twenty-six years after Michael Morton was sent to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, his wife’s killer was finally brought to justice.
Big Night at the National Magazine Awards
Executive editors Pamela Colloff and Mimi Swartz win two of our industry’s top prizes.
Judge: Prosecutor in Morton Case Deliberately Concealed Evidence
Arrest warrant is issued for former Williamson County district attorney Ken Anderson, the man who prosecuted Michael Morton and helped put him in prison for nearly 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
Mark Alan Norwood Found Guilty of Christine Morton’s Murder
“The big monster with the big mustache” is sentenced to life in prison.
The Missing Gun
On the third day of Mark Alan Norwood’s capital murder trial, an old friend testified that Norwood sold him the .45 that disappeared from Michael Morton’s home after his wife, Christine, was murdered in 1986.
DNA testing of a blue bandana exonerated Michael Morton. Could the small square of cloth also be the linchpin that seals Mark Alan Norwood’s fate?
Michael Morton Takes the Stand and Faces His Late Wife’s Alleged Killer
Prosecutors say they will prove that Norwood sold a .45 pistol that was stolen from the Morton home.
Behind the New Documentary About Michael Morton
Al Reinert discusses An Unreal Dream, his new film about Morton, who was wrongfully convicted of killing his wife and served nearly 25 years in prison for the crime.
Michael Morton’s Moving Senate Testimony
In a committee hearing Tuesday, the exoneree and newlywed pushed for a bill that would change the statute of limitations for offenses involving prosecutorial misconduct.
Another Chapter Closes in the Michael Morton Case
The final day of the court of inquiry into alleged prosecutorial misconduct by former Williamson County D.A. Ken Anderson ended with the man who helped put Michael in prison for 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit calling the accusations against him “so bogus it’s unreal.”
Ken Anderson’s Court of Inquiry Continues
More testimony suggested that the former Williamson County D.A. may have withheld evidence that could have proven the innocence of Michael Morton.
Ken Anderson’s Court of Inquiry: Day One
Michael Morton testifies at the inquiry for the former Williamson County district attorney who sent him to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Michael Morton Update: The Court of Inquiry Begins
Ken Anderson, the former Williamson County D.A. who prosecuted Michael, will essentially go on trial as the subject of a “court of inquiry,” an arcane legal procedure used to investigate possible wrongdoing by state officials.
Why John Bradley Lost
Williamson Country District Attorney John Bradley faced a resounding defeat in a race that became a referendum on his handling of the Michael Morton case.
WATCH: Michael Morton Gives His First Full Interview to “60 Minutes”
Although Michael Morton was formally exonerated last year of his wife’s murder and released from prison after nearly 25 years behind bars, he has made few public comments until now. On Sunday night, in a 60 Minutes exclusive, he spoke to CBS correspondent Lara Logan about his ordeal. Morton recounted how his three-year-old son, Eric, […]
Michael Morton on ‘60 Minutes’
An interview with Michael Morton, who spent 25 years in jail after being wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife, will air on this Sunday’s 60 Minutes.
The Innocent Man, Part One
The National Magazine Award–winning story about Michael Morton, a man who came home from work one day in 1986 to find that his wife had been brutally murdered. What happened next was one of the most profound miscarriages of justice in Texas history.
The Innocent Man, Part Two
Michael Morton spent 25 years wrongfully imprisoned for the brutal murder of his wife. How did it happen? And who is to blame?