Your Letters: A Tale Of Injustice
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Time now for your letters.
(SOUNDBITE OF LETTERS THEME MUSIC)
SIMON: The name that kept popping up in our email box this week was Michael Morton. He was the subject of a report last Saturday by NPR's Wade Goodwyn, who told the story of how Mr. Morton was convicted in 1987 of murdering his wife, Christine, near Austin, Texas. He was innocent, but served almost 25 years in prison.
KEN ANDERSON: As district attorney at the time, and as woefully inadequate as I realize it is, I want to formally apologize for the system's failure to Mr. Morton, and to every other person who was adversely affected by this verdict.
SIMON: That's Ken Anderson, who now stands accused of intentionally withholding the DNA evidence that could have exonerated Michael Morton. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Anderson has not been accused of withholding DNA evidence. The Texas Supreme Court has appointed a Court of Inquiry to investigate whether Anderson withheld exculpatory evidence in Morton's 1986 trial.] Michael Morton was freed last year, and now wants to hold Ken Anderson criminally accountable.
Many letters struck the same note as this one, from Chuck Monastra of Farmington Hill, Michigan: What stunned me the most was the humility and calm of Mr. Morton after the travesty of justice that was cast upon him and his son, who was forced to grow up without a mother and a father. I sincerely hope that he is successful in his efforts to enact a law that will punish any prosecutor who engages in such blatant professional misconduct.
And this from Ruth Freeman in Portland, Maine: Thank you, Wade Goodwyn, for the heart-wrenching, in-depth story you did this morning. I might never have heard of this story if not for your report. Very disturbing that something like this can, and did, happen. Please bring us an update.
Well, we can offer these developments: Wade Goodwyn tells us that a court of inquiry will be convened in Fort Worth in September. It will decide whether or not there is probable cause to indict Ken Anderson for concealing exculpatory evidence, and disobeying a court order to produce that evidence at the time of trial. As for the person the DNA evidence did link to the original crime, Mark Allan Norwood is now awaiting trial for the murder of Christine Morton.
Finally, to Michael Morton and his son, Eric, who was just 4 years old at the time of the murder: The two became estranged during Mr. Morton's incarceration and until his release, they hadn't seen each other for 16 years. Michael Morton says...
MICHAEL MORTON: At one point, we went out in the backyard by ourselves. It was dark; it was at night. And we started talking, just the two of us - far, far away from everybody else. And there was this wonderful, organic pattern we fell into of talking. It wasn't instantaneous, but the years just started evaporating.
SIMON: And we will keep you updated on this story. And please keep your cards and letters coming in to us. We're on Facebook and Twitter: @NPRWeekend. On Twitter, I'm @NPRScottSimon - all one word. You can e-mail or post your comments at npr.org. Click on the link that says Contact Us.
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Correction May 8, 2012
There was a factual error in this segment. Ken Anderson has not been accused of withholding DNA evidence. The Texas Supreme Court has appointed a Court of Inquiry to investigate whether Anderson withheld exculpatory evidence in Michael Morton's 1986 trial.