It’s hard to imagine losing a spouse to a senseless act of violence. It’s even harder to imagine being wrongfully prosecuted for the crime and spending the next 25 years in jail.
According to the Austin-American Statesman, Michael Morton was convicted of murdering his wife, Christine, in a 1987 trial. There was just one small problem with that conviction: he didn’t do it.
The prosecutor, Ken Anderson, withheld crucial evidence that could have exonerated Morton. One piece was a recording of Christine’s mother who indicated the couple’s three-year-old child witnessed the murder and claimed the assailant was a monster, noting that his father was not home at the time. Another involved a police report of a suspicious person who had parked and walked into a wooded area behind the couple’s home on several occasions. Any reasonable juror would have doubted Morton’s guilt based on these examples alone.
However, Anderson claimed Morton killed his wife in a late-night rage and arranged the scene to make it look like a burglary. He did so despite the fact that no witnesses or forensic evidence ever tied him to the crime and no murder weapon was ever found.
Morton was ultimately sentenced to life in prison. He was freed 25 years later after DNA evidence on a bandana found near the home proved his innocence and the guilt of another man, who is now serving a life sentence for this and another murder.
Meanwhile, Anderson will lose his license and spend a mere 10 days in jail. That seems like hardly a just punishment for wittingly robbing a man of 25 years of freedom and forcing a child to grow up without his only surviving parent.