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, was pulled from his arms, screaming, when he was arrested in 1986. Documents recently uncovered by the Innocence Project show that Eric was a witness to his mother’s murder—a fact that was unknown to Morton and his defense team, and a fact that could have helped win him an acquittal.
Those documents, found in the files of the Williamson County sheriff’s office, include a transcript of Eric’s maternal grandmother telling an investigator that her grandson told her that “a monster with a big mustache” was the killer, and that Morton was not present at the time of the killing. A shortened version of transcript was uncovered in the district attorney’s files.
Morton also spoke about his nearly quarter-century of incarceration.
“My first cell, I could stretch out my arms, and before my elbows locked, I was touching both walls,” Morton said. “And there were two grown men in there.”
But the most difficult moment came, Morton explained to Logan, when his son—who cut off visits with his father as a teenager—changed his name when he turned eighteen.
“That was when I hit rock bottom,” Morton said. “That was the end of it. That’s when I had nothing left.”
Perhaps the most interesting portion in the 60 Minutes segment, however, is Logan’s grilling of Eric Nichols, a former prosecutor in the Texas Attorney General’s office, who now represents state district judge Ken Anderson. It was Anderson who prosecuted Morton in 1987, and it is Anderson whose conduct in the case will be examined later this year by a court of inquiry.
When Logan pressed Nichols to explain why Morton’s defense team was never told of his son’s statements about the “monster,” Nichols said, “It’s clear to my client that he would have had some discussions with the defense counsel about Eric Morton. The precise details, unfortunately, are lost to the sands of time.” (Morton’s original trial attorneys, Bill Allison and Bill White, are adamant that no such disclosure ever took place.)
The 60 Minutes segment also includes archival footage of Morton proclaiming his innocence in 1987 after being convicted by a Williamson County jury, telling assembled reporters outside the courthouse, “I didn’t do this.”
Meanwhile, Anderson told reporters, “It got sickening after a while to watch him cry at the wrong times, and he only seemed to cry for himself.”
Logan also revealed that Morton, who has received nearly $2 million in compensation from the state of Texas for his wrongful incarceration, has reunited with his son since his exoneration.
Watch the whole segment below: