Sometimes, the trust reads stranger than fiction.
Imagine coming home one day to find your life completely transformed, irreversibly, touched by tragedy. Your wife has been found dead, savagely beaten to death, in the comfort of the home that the two of you shared together.
Now, imagine the police questioning you for hours and hours, and you assuming that they had their best intentions in mind. You assume that they just want to ask questions to clarify matters, and to eliminate you as a suspect. Now, imagine you sitting in a court room, as the judge announces that you have been found guilty of the murder of your wife. Imagine the first time that the cell door of the prison cell you will be spending possibly the rest of your days slams shut for that first time. The long and lonely night that follows, the period of adjustment to your new, imprisoned life. Imagine the shame of being known to the world as a convicted murderer, and imagine your spirits sinking further and further. You think things cannot be worse, and yet, they get worse. You spend over two decades in jail, and you find out that your own son has changed his last name, to have the least association with you as possible. He is ashamed of you and, sitting here on the wrong side of the prison bars, there is not a damn thing you can do about all of this! You are powerless, and the world that considers you a monster is trying their best for forget you, to bury you prematurely.
This is what actually happened to Michael Morton in real life, way back in 1987. Almost twenty five years have passed, and finally, Michael Morton's name has been cleared. It almost sounds like a
Hollywood movie, doesn't it?
The day before his wife was murdered happened to have been his birthday. They went out together, had a good time. Came home. Shared some cookies. Then his wife went to sleep. He had been hoping for a happy ending, like any normal guy, and was extremely disappointed, like any guy would have been. He wrote his wife a note about it, explaining that he was not mad, but that he needed to voice his disappointment about what happened. It was these words that he wrote that largely would convict him, and force the next twenty plus years of his life to be spent locked up behind bars.
Of course, he contested it, but the prosecution laughed at him, almost literally. It had seemed like an open and shut case. The note seemed to provide the motive for the crime, and Mr. Morton was presumed guilty. He was far and away the leading suspect, and the prosecution was able to convince the jury quite easily that Michael Morton had, in fact, killed his wife.
The only thing is that it was not true, and the prosecution knew it. They conveniently left out any evidence that would cast doubt, serious doubt, that Michael was, in fact, the murderer. They did not include the fingerprints, that did not match. They did not allow the jury to know about the account of a neighbor, who had seen a suspicious individual driving around the house, hovering, acing, waiting. They also ignored a bloody bandana found nearby that would have showed that the husband was not apparently involved. It had his wife Christine's blood and hair on it, but since it was not found on property, the police dismissed it. A neighbor who found it turned it into the police, and that might have put the thoroughness of the investigation into question. So it was not permitted as evidence. Finally, they left out the similarities between this murder and a similar one in the area in 1988 that would suggest striking enough parallels that the same killer would be a real possibility. In fact, it has been determined to have the been the work of the same killer.
Michael Morton kept petitioning to try and get this evidence introduced into a court of law, in order to clear his name and get his freedom back. But the prosecution responded with arrogance, almost literally laughing at him, mocking him. They said they would allow this evidence to be introduced once he admitted to committing the crime. It was a paradox,. The years turned into decades.
Then, it happened. A Texas Court suddenly demanded that this "new" evidence never previously introduced now be permitted, and decades after the fact, Michael Morton's name was finally cleared of the murder.
Williamson County District Attorney James Bradley had long blocked this new evidence from being introduced, but now claims he had done so with honest intentions. He offered a rather lame apology in return for having gone a long way towards ruining this man's life for so long, as well as that of family and friends. One wonders if there is not a case to be made for prison time for the prosecution, who made a poor case by withholding evidence back in 1988 during the trial, and who steadfastly refused to introduce the new evidence, perhaps afraid of having such incompetence exposed and thrown before the public eye. It almost reads like the "Shawshank Redemption".
Michael Morton is now free, but he is staying active with the "Innocence Project", a program designed to help people in similar circumstances to him – wrongly convicted of crimes that they did not commit, and trying desperately to introduce new evidence that would clear their name back into court.
An incredible story, and unbelievable resilience under obviously difficult and trying circumstances by Mr. Morton, who's series of misfortunes are now fully recognized by the public that had once condemned and tried largely to bury the man. Now, he is the poster child for the failures of a flawed law enforcement and legal system that seem suddenly riddled with holes, even gaping holes.