Brandi Grissom has a wrap up of this of the week long court of inquiry for former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson regarding the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton in 1986. (Check out these links as Grissom attended the whole hearing and live blogged it – here, here, here, and here.)
At the end what stood out was the level to which Ken Anderson saw himself as a victim. But more importantly that Michael Morton feels that Anderson still doesn’t get that he made a mistake and needs to atone for that.
Morton exited the courtroom Friday afternoon, after a week of hearing the excruciating details of his botched trial rehashed and a day of listening to one of the men he feels was responsible for his wrongful conviction defend his work. “Yikes,” Morton said to a gaggle of television cameras and news reporters. He took a deep breath before describing the day of heated verbal sparring as “wrenching.”
Morton said his impression was that Anderson accepted no responsibility for the injustice he suffered.
“I was hoping for more,” he said. “I think we saw someone who is still struggling with denial and anger.”
In watching all of this over the last year and a half or so, I’m not positive that Anderson technically broke any law. But I’m damn near positive there were moral and ethical lapses. And that former Sheriff Boutwell and Anderson knew, deep down in their souls, that Morton was guilty and were bound and determined to put him in jail – no matter what the evidence said. Their egos got in the way of reality. And that later on John Bradley was willing to keep him there for the same egotistical reasons. And lends credence to the many unfair justice stories, that are common place for anyone who has lived in Williamson County for an extended period of time.
Hopefully this will be a cautionary tale for all prosecutors that they are not the judge and jury. That they should allow everyone to look at all the evidence in a case – all the way through the appeals process – to make sure they’re not putting innocent people in jail for crimes they didn’t commit. Because, as this shows, when an innocent person goes to jail it not only ruins their life, but when the truth comes out it ruins the lives, and legacy, of those that put the innocent person in jail as well.
Texas Monthly , Another Chapter Closes in the Michael Morton Case.
During a discussion about what sort of changes should be made to prevent wrongful convictions, Anderson was unable to come up with any ideas for legislative measures or judicial reforms. He also declined to say that the Williamson County D.A.’s office had been wrong to fight DNA testing in Michael’s case for five years, even though that testing not only exonerated Michael, but identified the DNA of a man who has since been indicted for Christine’s murder and the 1988 murder of Debra Baker.
As reporters and cameramen gathered around Michael at the conclusion of the day, he seemed momentarily at a loss for words. Earlier in the week, Michael had asked Sturns to “be gentle” on Anderson. But Michael was clearly shocked by what Anderson had, and had not, said. Listening to the man who helped send him to prison for life, he told reporters, was “wrenching.” Anderson’s testimony “was unexpected to say the very least,” he added. “I was hoping for more.”
Before turning to walk away with the lawyers who secured his exoneration, Michael said, “I think we saw someone who is still struggling with denial and anger. . . .This is a man who has been in a position of power for almost three decades, and for the first time has had to answer for his actions, and he’s very uncomfortable with that.”
Michael stated that he trusted that Sturns—who will likely issue a decision this spring about whether Anderson should face criminal charges—would “do the right thing.”
For more on the court of inquiry, read executive editor Pamela Colloff’s two dispatches from Williamson County. And for more on the history of Michael’s case, read her two-part series, theInnocent Man.