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Texas attorney general reinvestigating botched murder case

October 17, 2011 |  8:52 pm

MortonThe Texas attorney general's office is reinvestigating a murder case that sent the wrong man to prison for nearly 25 years.

"We have taken over the investigation and prosecution in the Christine Morton murder case," Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott's office, told The Times on Monday.

Christine Morton was found bludgeoned to death at her home in Williamson County, about 20 miles north of Austin, on Aug. 13, 1986. Her husband, Michael Morton, was convicted of murdering her and sentenced to life in prison the following year. Morton insisted that he was innocent, that he was at work at the time his wife was killed and that she had been attacked by an intruder.

Earlier this month, Morton, 57, was released from prison and exonerated after DNA tests identified another man as a suspect in the death of his wife and the 1988 murder of another woman in the area under similar circumstances. According to court records, the suspect, identified only as John Doe, lived in the area at the time and has felony convictions or charges in four states, including California.

Williamson County sheriff's officers reinvestigating the Morton case will now report to Abbott's office.

Morton's lawyers with the New York-based Innocence Project have launched their own investigation into why prosecutors did not turn over evidence to his original attorney that could have eliminated Morton as a suspect in his wife's death -- including records showing that a check and credit card belonging to his wife were used after he was jailed.

The sheriff and judge who originally handled the case have since died. But the lead prosecutor, Ken Anderson, now a district judge, is expected to be questioned, as is former assistant district attorney Mike Davis, now a Round Rock lawyer.

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley urged both men to cooperate in the investigation, according to the Austin American-Statesman, and announced Monday that the county had formed a grand jury to hear evidence in the Morton case.

--Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston


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Photo: Michael Morton, right, leaves the Williamson County Justice Center in Georgetown, Texas, with lawyer John W. Raley Jr. this month after a judge freed him. Morton, who spent nearly 25 years in prison in his wife's beating death, walked free after DNA tests showed another man was responsible. The Innocence Project has accused the case's original prosecutors of deliberately concealing evidence that probably would have helped Morton avoid being convicted. Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman/Associated Press.