Prosecutor Gets 10 Days in Jail to Make Up for Sending Innocent Man to Prison for 25 Years
Ten days in jail—not prison, only jail—for engineering the wrongful murder conviction of an innocent man who languished in prison nearly 25 years is the state of Texas’ idea of justice. That was the sentence handed down on former Williamson County, Texas, district attorney Ken Anderson, who will also surrender his law license and perform 500 hours of community service to settle allegations that he hid favorable evidence from Michael Morton, who was convicted of killing his wife in 1987.
Anderson avoided felony charges of tampering with evidence and pleaded only to contempt of court for lying to the judge during a pre-trial hearing by affirming that he no exculpatory evidence to hand over to Morton’s attorneys. In fact, Anderson had a transcript of a police interview with the victim’s mother, who said that the Mortons’ 3-year-old son had witnessed the killing, described the attacker as a monster and said that Michael Morton was not there at the time, and a police report that neighbors had seen suspicious behavior by an unknown driver of a green van who had parked and walked into the woods behind the Morton house several times before the crime.
“It’s a good day,” said Morton after the hearing. “I said the only thing that I want, as a baseline, is Ken Anderson to be off the bench and no longer practicing law—and both of those things have happened, and more.” Morton was freed in 2011 after a long court battle led to DNA tests on a blue bandanna found at the crime scene discovered DNA from Mark Alan Norwood, who has since been convicted of her murder and is serving a life sentence.
Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck, whose organization has helped free hundreds of wrongly convicted prisoners via use of DNA evidence, announced an independent review of all cases prosecuted by Anderson over his 16 years to find other cases of misconduct. “When you have individuals like Ken Anderson who engage in misconduct, such people tend to be serial offenders,” said Scheck.
Anderson, who was Williamson County district attorney for 16 years before becoming a state court judge in 2002, must turn himself in to the jail by December 2, and could serve as little as four days.
Texas has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in prisoners set free by DNA testing—117 in the last 25 years.
To Learn More:
Ken Anderson to Serve 10 Days in Jail (by Chuck Lindell, Austin Statesman)
Ex-Prosecutor Gets 10 Days in Jail over Michael Morton Case (Dallas Morning News)
Michael Morton Prosecutor Will Face Criminal Charges for Withholding Evidence (Innocence Project)
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