To mark the 30th anniversary of Christine Morton’s murder, the Texas Tribune published a feature story about how the tragedy has helped to bring about wrongful conviction reforms to the criminal justice system in Texas. Christine’s husband, Michael, was wrongly convicted and served 25 years in prison before he was eventually exonerated by DNA testing secured by the Innocence Project.
During the investigation of Michael’s case, the Innocence Project uncovered evidence that the prosecutor, Ken Anderson, withheld critical evidence pointing to Michael’s innocence that was never disclosed to the defense. Anderson, who later became a district court judge, was eventually prosecuted and convicted for the misconduct. The DNA testing also revealed the identity of the real assailant, Alan Norwood, who was eventually convicted of the murder.
The story generated national headlines and, as the Tribune notes, helped to bring about the Michael Morton Act, which requires prosecutors to share their files and all relevant evidence with defendants. State Senator and Innocence Project Board Chair Rodney Ellis is quoted in the article as saying, “Michael’s Willingness to use the to use the tragedy he endured to advance change was key to bringing about needed reform to our justice system. The Legislature had tried and failed to bring more fairness and transparency to the discovery process for years, and Michael’s work and dedication to fixing our broken system helped to move us forward.”
Read more about the case and its effects on the criminal justice in Texas here.