Trial of Man Accused of Killing Christine Morton Begins, After Husband’s Exoneration

The Houston Chronicle reported yesterday (here) that in opening statements in the trial of Mark Alan Norwood, on trial for the 1986 bludgeoning death of Christine Morton, prosecutor Lisa Tanner told jurors that the state will present new evidence connecting Norwood to the crime. Tanner, representing the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said that a .45 Colt pistol that was missing from the Morton home after the murder was located by prosecutors.  Norwood allegedly sold the gun, registered to Christine’s husband Michael Morton, to a man who had hired Norwood to work on a home remodeling project.

The Texas Tribune confirms today (here) that “Louis ‘Sonny’ Homer Wann, a former Austin construction company owner who now lives in Nashville and once hired alleged murderer Mark Alan Norwood, will tell jurors in a videotaped deposition this week that his former employee sold him a .45-caliber pistol stolen from the home where Christine Morton was killed.”

As reported in numerous articles on this blog, Michael Morton served nearly 25 years in prison for the murder, before DNA testing on a bandana—delayed for six years by resistance and litigation by then District Attorney John Bradley—linked Norwood to the crime and exonerated Morton.

Subsequently, Norwood’s DNA was linked to a similar beating death of Debra Baker, another woman and young mother in the area. Baker’s murder occurred after the murder of Christine and the conviction of Michael Morton.

According to the Houston Chronicle report, Morton was the first to testify yesterday. He indicated that he learned that his gun was missing on the day of his wife’s murder.

Norwood’s lawyer, Ariel Payan, “told jurors that the DNA evidence allegedly linking his client to the murder could have been contaminated. Payan said the two issues jurors will need to consider in the trial were ‘contamination and liars.'”

Meanwhile, a judge is deliberating after a hearing to determine if the original prosecutor in the case, Ken Anderson, now a Texas district judge, is guilty of misconduct in his handling of his prosecution of Morton. Morton’s lawyers have accused Anderson of failing to meet his requirement of turning over to the defense evidence supporting Morton’s innocence.

As in many wrongful convictions, authorities focused very early on a suspect, Michael Morton in this case. In examining wrongful convictions, experts have noted an apparent tunnel vision, in which evidence inconsistent with the crime theory is discounted by authorities as they build the case to convict the suspect. A missing gun, a likely theft from the Morton home, apparently did not raise significant caution among investigators and the prosecutor in this case.

The Morton case has focused national attention on the tragic ripple effect of wrongful conviction and has raised the issue of prosecutorial accountability—versus absolute prosecutorial immunity—in cases in which alleged official misconduct may have contributed to a miscarriage of justice.

One response to “Trial of Man Accused of Killing Christine Morton Begins, After Husband’s Exoneration

  1. It seems to me very ovious that Lisa tanned is out for self again in th public eye not the truth she herself is a criminal. with her lies and hiding evidence .if you look in to the history of convictions there has been Alston sermstanial evidence and hidden evidence. a lot of this pals lingo and hood county areas.she makes deals with drug dealers to convict for a win this cost the state money and people lose there lives and rallies lose everything .

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