Thursday, June 12, 2014

It Can Happen To You

I just happened to watch  "An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story" a documentary about a man who was imprisoned for twenty-five years unjustly, because of criminal activity on part of the prosecutor and DA's office. Sound familiar? Morton lived in Williamson County, Texas and was falsely accused and convicted of killing his wife in August of 1986. In a letter to the trial judge, Morton proclaimed his innocence:

On April 12, 1987, Michael Morton sat down to write a letter. 
“Your Honor,” he began, “I’m sure you remember me. I was convicted of murder, in your court, in February of this year.” He wrote each word carefully, sitting cross-legged on the top bunk in his cell at the Wynne prison unit, in Huntsville. “I have been told that you are to decide if I am ever to see my son, Eric, again. I haven’t seen him since the morning that I was convicted. I miss him terribly and I know that he has been asking about me.” Referring to the declarations of innocence he had made during his trial, he continued, “I must reiterate my innocence. I did NOT kill my wife. You cannot imagine what it is like to lose your wife the way I did, then to be falsely accused and convicted of this terrible crime. First, my wife and now possibly, my son! Sooner or later, the truth will come out. The killer will be caught and this nightmare will be over. I pray that the sheriff’s office keeps an open mind. It is no sin to admit a mistake. No one is perfect in the performance of their job. I don’t know what else to say except I swear to God that I did NOT kill my wife. Please don’t take my son from me too.”

It took twenty-five years and the assistance of The Innocence Project to conclusively prove that the DNA found on a bandana at the crime scene did NOT contain Morton's blood. Despite pleas from the attorneys at The Innocence Project, the DA in Texas refused to have the bandana tested for DNA. Why? Eventually, a court-ordered DNA test not only exonerated Morton , but identified the killer, who had a long criminal history and was even charged with a SECOND murder as a result of the DNA findings.

Ironically, Shane Watson's case is not eligible for any type of DNA-based evidence, since Shane was not at the crime scene,  and no gun was ever recovered from the shooting. Shane's case is based purely on extremely questionable "eyewitness" testimony, which has now been officially recanted in court.

We still await a decision from Judge Richard Price about our motion to vacate Shane's conviction.  our motion hearings began last summer on July15, 2013 and concluded in October of this year.

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