Texas, the Land of Law and Order

This was in The Bryan/College Station Eagle today on the Editorial page.. Great piece.

In 1986 the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up shortly after launch. Lady Gaga was born and the forensic use of DNA technology in criminal courtrooms began. 1986 is also the year Christine Morton was murdered. Christine’s husband, Michael Morton, was convicted of that murder and sent to prison for life. Twenty-five years have passed.

This year brought us the final Space Shuttle mission and Lady Gaga at the top of the charts. Since 1986, the science and accuracy of DNA testing has progressed to incredible levels, and this month DNA testing exonerated Michael Morton.

The prosecutors claimed Michael Morton was a sex-crazed lunatic who beat his wife to death one morning before work. Michael maintained his innocence, insisting his wife was alive when he left that morning.

The jury that convicted Michael was never shown a blood-stained bandana found behind the Morton home. The jury never learned that Morton’s 3-year-old son witnessed the assault on his mom, had described the murderer and said that his father was not home at the time. The jury also was not told that Christine Morton’s purse had been stolen from the house, or that her credit card and a check were later used by someone other than Michael. Instead, prosecutors misled the jury, arguing that since nothing was stolen there was no evidence to support Michael’s claim of a burglar. The prosecutors also withheld this evidence from Michael’s lawyers, even though required by law to turn it over. Link

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