A new criminal arrest has been made for a 1986 murder for which an innocent man spent more than two decades in prison. The news is bittersweet for both the wrongly convicted man and the family of the victim.
According to a recent report from the Associated Press, the Texas Attorney General called the attorney of the wrongly convicted man, Michael Morton, and notified him that a new suspect had been arrested in conjunction with the 25-year-old crime.
The news may have provided some source of comfort for Morton, who had been wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, Christine, in August 1986.
Sources indicate that the 57-year-old man was freed last month after investigators discovered that another man was responsible for the beating death of Christine Morton by checking DNA samples taken from a bloody bandanna found at the scene of the crime.
The man with the matching DNA has not yet been identified, but police also found hair with the same DNA at the scene of a similar crime near the Morton’s residence.
When he learned the news from the attorney general, Morton’s defense attorney promptly told his client, who was relieved by the news.
Morton is not yet available for comment, though, because the ruling by a Texas court that freed him of the murder charges will not become official for a few more weeks.
And, while Morton is free after 25 years in prison, prosecutors involved in the case will soon face difficult questions as authorities try to determine what went wrong in the case.
According to the Associated Press, prosecutors claimed in the original trial that Morton had killed his wife after she refused to have sex with him on his birthday.
In his defense, though, Morton claimed that he had left the house the morning of the murder to go to work, and said that an intruder must have committed the crime.
In addition, during his years in prison, Morton refused to show remorse or admit his guilt, despite offers of an early release if he made such claims. For 25 years, Morton steadfastly maintained that he was innocent.
Observers claim that possible unethical conduct by the head prosecutor may have led to Morton’s false conviction. Morton’s attorneys now allege that the prosecutor concealed key evidence from the defense that may have exonerated Morton.
Today, that prosecutor is a judge in a Texas district court, and he was recently grilled for six hours by Morton’s attorneys in a deposition as they attempt to discover how Morton’s trial was so badly botched.
Of course, even if more criminal convictions are made for Morton’s false arrest, nothing will replace the 25 years that Morton spent behind bars. While he is now a free man, Morton will always carry the sting of a life abbreviated by a grossly unfair prison sentence.