Eric Olson, son of the recently exonerated Michael Morton, spoke to the Texas Tribune about prosecutorial misconduct in his father’s case. The article is part of a series, “Errors in Judgment,” on prosecutorial error in Texas wrongful convictions cases. Olson, who was three years old when his father was arrested for murdering his mother, lost both parents in the same year. The article used Olson’s experience as a way to examine the collateral consequences of prosecutor’s misdeeds.
The series analyzed 86 wrongful convictions and discovered that nearly 25% involved prosecutorial error. In Morton’s case, a Court of Inquiry will convene to explore allegations of prosecutorial misconduct against Ken Anderson, the prosecutor who tried Morton in 1987. However, prosecutors are very rarely disciplined, as the Texas Tribune reported, even when their actions contributed to a wrongful conviction.
When Morton was exonerated through DNA testing and freed in October 2011, Olson had not seen his father for 14 years. Father and son would soon meet together with Olson’s pregnant wife. Morton has since become a grandfather for the first time at age 57.
Olson says that he plans to attend the Court of Inquiry. Exculpatory evidence, including his own statement to his grandmother that his father was not present at the crime and that a “monster” had killed his mother, was never turned over to the defense. As an adult, however, Olson had no memory of the crime. Olson told the Texas Tribune that the prosecutor had convinced his mother’s family that his father committed the crime:
“He convinced everybody that’s what the truth was, and that’s what they thought forever. They didn’t have any other source of truth.
Part of my life was taken away, first of all, because my mother was killed. Then I don’t understand why somebody would want to continue that chain of events by taking away someone’s father.”
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