Updated 02/07/2013 09:08 AM
Attorney: Morton never had ‘fair chance’ in 1987 murder trial
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On Wednesday, the third day of the court of inquiry of Williamson County District Judge Ken Anderson, Michael Morton's former attorney, Bill White, testified that key evidence in Anderson's possession during Morton’s 1987 trial was never shared with the defense.
White said that he and his partner were not given a fair chance to defend their young client at the time. He told the court that Anderson kept the investigator’s entire file away from his team—evidence which could have kept Morton out of prison for a crime he did not commit.
Morton was found guilty in of murder in 1987, and spent nearly more than 24 years behind bars for the bludgeoning death of his wife Christine. In 2011, DNA from evidence found at the scene of the crime was tested and Morton was cleared of the crime.
Acting as district attorney at the time, Anderson is accused of withholding evidence which included a check cashed under Christine’s name after her death, and a conversation between Eric Morton, the couple’s son, and his grandmother in which the toddler said a “monster” killed his mom.
Williamson County Deputy Sgt. Don Wood was the primary investigator in the 1986 murder of Christine. He did not testify during Morton’s trial.
"Everything that Don Wood did in the case—his written reports, there were oral notations. The rough notes he wrote when he wrote it out. Certainly that tape recording between he and Rita Kirkpatrick," White said.
Judge Doug Arnold was the post-conviction attorney under former District Attorney John Bradley.
"When I got here there was not an open file policy," Judge Arnold said. "Not until Bradley brought me the case did I ever find out anything about Michael Morton."
From the stand, Judge Arnold recalled a conversation he had with Ken Anderson.
"He represented to me in the past that on one or more occasion he had not called the investigating officer to the stand," Judge Arnold said.
Judge Arnold said Anderson told him that was how he preferred to try cases.
"You now have a duty to turn over to the opposing side any notes, any statements made in the past,” Judge Arnold said.
But if the investigator doesn't testify, prosecutors aren't required to give over those notes. That’s unless the investigator finds exculpatory evidence—evidence considered favorable to the defense.
If the court of inquiry judge believes Anderson violated state law or courtroom rules, he is subject to criminal prosecution. The hearing is expected to last through the end of the week.