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DNA evidence confirms wrong man imprisoned for 25 years

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Michael Morton has spent the past 25 years in prison, convicted of bludgeoning his wife to death in 1986. This month a second set of DNA tests confirmed that hair and blood found on a bandana at a construction site near the crime scene matched the victim and a convicted criminal in California now thought to be the real murderer.

On August 13, 1986, Christine Morton was found bludgeoned to death in the home in Georgetown that she shared with her husband, Michael, and the couple’s three-year-old son, Eric. The State’s theory was that Michael, in a sudden rage, beat his wife and the mother of his only child to death in their own bed, simply because Christine was too tired to have sexual relations with him after they returned from celebrating his 32nd birthday at a restaurant the previous evening.

There were no witnesses or physical evidence tying Michael to the crime. The State’s case was based primarily around a note that Michael left for Christine when he went to work, expressing his disappointment that she fell asleep the night before (with an “I love you” signoff). The State argued that Michael staged the crime scene to look like a robbery-murder and disposed of Christine’s purse and his own gun before arriving at work at 6 A.M. the next day; and, perhaps most remarkably, went to work fully understanding that his 3 year old son, left alone in the house, would find his murdered mother.

Important evidence was withheld from Morton’s defense attorney, namely that Morton’s son told his grandmother that his father was not home when a “monster” hit his mother and broke his bed.

For the past six years the Innocence Project of New York has been waiting for the advanced testing and results of DNA evidence. In June, the results confirmed that Christine Morton’s blood and hair were on a bandana recovered at a construction site a hundred yards from the crime scene. More recent tests confirmed that the DNA of a convicted offender in the national DNA database was mixed with the victim’s DNA on the bandana.

On Aug. 17, The Innocence Project filed a motion asking the Williamson County, Texas court to recuse District Attorney John Bradley due to his bias against Morton and appoint an independent prosecutor to examine new DNA evidence.

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