Updated 10/03/2011 07:51 PM
Michael Morton to be freed after 25 years behind bars
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A man who spent nearly 25 years behind bars for murdering his wife will soon be free.
Michael Morton was convicted of murdering his wife, Christine, in 1987. Morton has always maintained his innocence, and his lawyers have argued new evidence proves it.
For five years, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley stood in the way of DNA testing on a bandana found near the crime scene, until the 3rd Court of Appeals of Texas got involved. In June, DNA test results showed the victim’s blood and hair on the bandana. On the other side, was DNA from an unknown male. Then in August, that evidence was matched to the unsolved 1988 Travis County murder of Debra Jan Baker.
"I am going to say that the evidence right now justifies his reversal," Bradley said. "While today I can say we have more than enough information to conclude that Michael Morton should be released, we're not yet at the point that we can safely say we can prosecute another individual."
Travis County officials believe the Christine Morton murder could be tied to the Debra Baker murder -- a crime Morton couldn't have committed, since he was in prison. They are referring to the person with the DNA match as "John Doe" since investigations are ongoing.
Barry Scheck leads the Innocence Project. Beyond the DNA evidence, his team of defense attorneys say the evidence is clear, Williamson County prosecutorial misconduct led to an innocent man going to prison.
"It doesn't take a village, it takes an army to accomplish this and it's not over yet," he said.
Some of the evidence the defense says was buried by Williamson County, included a credit card used two days after the Morton murder, a check cashed nine days after the murder and a tape-recorded conversation between the victim’s mother and sheriffs’ deputies where she said her grandson had witnessed a "monster" murder his mother.
"This appears to be a case of where there was an extraordinary amount of credible, specific, corroborated non-DNA evidence on the record and eye witness account of the murder by this third-party intruder that was never turned over to the defense," Nina Morrison with the Innocence Project said.
The 1988 Travis County investigation is pending with no arrests made. A bond hearing is scheduled for Morton Tuesday at 3 p.m. He could be released at that time, or the following morning.