Updated 01/18/2012 07:22 PM
Norwood makes first court appearance
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Mark Alan Norwood made his first court appearance in Williamson County Wednesday.
The 57-year-old handy man and dishwasher was charged late last year in the 1986 murder of Christine Morton. A bandana with Norwood’s DNA and the victim’s blood that was found 100 yards from the crime scene led investigators to Norwood, who was living in Bastrop County with his mother at the time of his arrest.
The arrest also led to the exoneration of Christine’s husband, Michael Morton, who spent 24 years in prison for his wife’s murder--a crime he didn’t commit.
Norwood, and his lawyer Russell Hunt Jr., maintained his innocence in court.
"There certainly shouldn't be a rush to judgment and the only way anyone should ever be convicted in a crime, is if it's been proved they did that crime,” he said. “And the evidence up to this point seems awfully thin."
Hunt believes two separate stains on the same bandana does not mean his client is a killer.
"There are questions about the chain of custody for the bandana,” he said. “Who handled it? In what manner did they handle it? In what manner was the evidence maintained? And what else may it have come in contact with?”
While he hasn't been charged, according to Travis County authorities, Norwood is also a suspect in the 1988 death of Debra Baker. The 34 year-old wife and mother of two was found beaten to death in her own home, similar to the way Christine Morton was killed.
Travis County investigators told YNN in December they are working to impanel a grand jury this year in Baker’s murder.
In Williamson County, a special-called grand jury is expected to examine evidence in the Christine Morton case early next month.
This case has put the Williamson County District Attorney’s office under a microscope.
District Judge Ken Anderson is accused of prosecutorial misconduct in the original trial, and Williamson County DA John Bradley was criticized for blocking the DNA testing that ultimately proved Michael Morton's innocence.
The Texas Attorney General's office is now prosecuting the Norwood case with the wrongful conviction is investigating.
Prosecutors from the AG's office have declined to comment.