Texan freed by DNA test after 25 years exonerated

By WILL WEISSERT

Oct. 13, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas appeals court on Wednesday formally exonerated a man who spent nearly 25 years in prison for his wife’s 1986 fatal beating, reaffirming a judge’s decision to set him free last week after DNA tests linked the killing to another man…

…Morton, 57, was convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence and sentenced to life in prison. He maintained over the years that his wife and their 3-year-old son were fine when he left for work at an Austin grocery store on the day she was killed, and that an intruder must have attacked her.

DNA found this summer during testing on a bloody bandanna recovered near the crime scene matched that of a man who authorities say has a criminal record in several states. When it was also matched to DNA recovered from the scene of a north Austin woman’s 1988 unsolved beating death, prosecutors recommended that Morton be freed immediately…

…The Innocence Project has accused the prosecutor who originally handled the case, Ken Anderson, of deliberately concealing non-DNA evidence that likely would have helped Morton avoid being convicted in the first place. Anderson, who is now a district judge in Williamson County, has not responded to repeated requests for comment made through his court administrator.

Morrison said the defense is working with Bradley’s office to investigate allegations of prosecutorial wrongdoing, and will continue to do so over the next month. Among the evidence the Innocence Project says Anderson kept from Morton’s defense lawyers were statements Christine Morton’s mother made to police, in which she said her grandson told her he watched his mother get killed and that it wasn’t his father who killed her.

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