Remember Michael Morton? He was the fellow who was released last year after serving 25 years for his wife's murder when DNA evidence was found to belong to someone else.
That DNA was found 100 yards from the crime scene on a bandana that also contained the victim's blood. A man named Mark Norwood is alleged to be the owner of said DNA. And a Williamson County Grand Jury has indicted Mr. Norwood -- see TexasTribune.org. Mr. Norwood's attorney says he's innocent.
Here's where it gets really interesting. The M.O. in Mrs. Morton's murder was very similar to other murders in the area where Mr. Norwood lived. And last year someone else was convicted on circumstantial evidence for one of those murders. Could that have also been a wrongful conviction? The Travis County D.A. may be looking into that one.
Thank goodness those District Attorneys are entertaining the possibility that some of the people that get convicted might be innocent. Contrast that with controversy surrounding the Harris County District Attorney.
And if that's not enough, Prosecutorial Oversight issued a news release today saying that:
From 2004 to 2008, courts found that prosecutors committed error in 91 [Texas criminal] cases. Of these, the courts upheld the conviction in 72 of the cases, finding that the error was “harmless.” In 19 of the cases, the court ruled that the error was “harmful” and reversed the conviction. From 2004 until November 2011, only one prosecutor was publicly disciplined by the Texas Bar Association, and this was from a case that arose before 2004.
The Texas Bar Association might not be the best arbiter in cases involving prosecutorial misconduct, however.
As for Ken Anderson, the prosecutor in Michael Morton's case, he's headed for a court of inquiry scheduled for September 11 regarding accusations that he withheld evidence that a jury could have used to decide Mr. Morton was not guilty. Mr. Anderson, now a Williamson County state district judge, says he's innocent.