It’s official - Court of Criminal Appeals vacates Michael Morton’s conviction

Posted in Criminal Justice, District Attorney, Williamson County at 1:19 pm by wcnews

Via the AAS, Appeals court declares Morton innocent.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed today to toss out Michael Morton’s 1987 conviction and life sentence for the murder of his wife, Christine, in Williamson County.

‘I just called Michael and told him the news. He was thrilled,” said Nina Morrison, a lawyer with the Innocence Project of New York. “This is the first time in almost 25 years he has not had a wrongful conviction on his record and hanging over his head, and obviously it’s a great day for him.”

Noting that recent DNA tests indicate that another man, unidentified in court documents, was the killer, the state’s highest criminal court unanimously declared: “We determine that (Morton) is entitled to relief on his actual innocence claim.”

Morton’s request to vacate his conviction was sent to the court on Oct. 3, a day before he was released from prison in an agreement between defense lawyers and Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley.

That agreement also gave Morton’s lawyers a chance to conduct a limited investigation into allegations that prosecutors and investigators improperly withheld that pointed to Morton’s innocence — but only until the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on Morton’s innocence claim.

Morrison said defense lawyers believe they have 30 days to complete their investigation into the misconduct claims because appellate court rulings do not become final until a mandate issues 30 days after a ruling is announced.

“I am confident we will find a way to get it done in the next 30 days, if not after,” she said, providing no details because District Judge Sid Harle placed the investigation agreement under seal in court files.

Bradley said today that he will “immediately” present Harle with a motion to dismiss Morton’s indictment. With the indictment dismissed, Morton would be eligible for compensation from Texas — $80,000 for each year he was wrongly imprisoned, totaling about $2 million, with another $2 million annuity that will earn 5 percent interest pay out monthly.

That’s certainly nice for Morton to get that kind of money. But there’s no way Morton and his family can be repaid for what’s been done to them. The original prosecutors and investigators have to live with what they did to Morton, as well as letting a killer go free. And to think this could have been cleared up 6 years ago if DA Bradley would have allowed DNA testing on the bandana. His antics cost the state an extra $480,000.

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