Sticking to His Guns on the Wrong Guy

Former sheriff's sergeant doesn't help WilCo's case of justice gone awry

Mark Alan Norwood has been charged with the 1986 murder of Christine Morton and is suspected in the death of 
Debra Masters Baker.
Mark Alan Norwood has been charged with the 1986 murder of Christine Morton and is suspected in the death of Debra Masters Baker.

To hear former Williamson County Sheriff's Sgt. Don Wood tell it, Michael Morton should still be in prison serving out a life sentence for killing his wife, Christine, in 1986. Morton may have been released, but "he shouldn't be," Wood told lawyers during a deposition last month taken as part of an inquiry into whether police or prosecutors engaged in misconduct during the investigation and trial of Morton for his wife's bludgeoning murder. Morton was freed after spending 25 years in prison for the crime – which DNA evidence taken from a bandana found near the crime scene now proves he did not commit. Over the course of the 170-page deposition, Wood repeatedly says he can't remember much at all about the crime or the investigation; after suffering a series of strokes, he tells Morton attorney John Raley, his memory "bounces around here and there." Still, Wood says he would have turned over all of his investigative documents to then-District Attorney Ken Anderson for prosecution; Anderson, now a district judge, is at the center of the controversy over whether key information and exculpatory evidence – including information that Christine's credit card, taken during the murder, had been used two days after her death in San Antonio – was deliberately kept from Morton's defense. For his part, Wood says he remembers something about the credit card information, but "I don't remember what it was," he told Raley.

Another man, Mark Alan Norwood, has been arrested and charged with Christine's murder after he was matched to the DNA taken from the bloody bandana. Norwood's DNA also matches evidence from the 1988 bludgeoning death in Austin of Debra Mas­ters Baker – not only a likely victim of Norwood's, but likely also a victim of the tunnel vision created by Williamson County officials responsible for the investigation and prosecution of Morton.

Anderson has also been deposed; at press time, that deposition had not yet been released. (For more on the case, see "Morton Prosecutor Wrote the Book on Crime," Nov. 18.)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Michael Morton
Bill of the Week
Bill of the Week
Senate Bill 487: Ellis files bill to help convicted receive new DNA tests

Richard Whittaker, Feb. 20, 2015

Panel Emphasizes Need for Prosecutorial Oversight
Panel Emphasizes Need for Prosecutorial Oversight
Michael Morton's case is one of dozens in which misconduct has been alleged

Jordan Smith, April 6, 2012

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

Eighth Inmate of the Year Set to Die
Eighth Inmate of the Year Set to Die
Eighth inmate of the year set to die

May 9, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Michael Morton, Christine Morton, Debra Baker, wrongful conviction, Ken Anderson, Don Wood, Mark Norwood, DNA, capital murder, prosecutorial misconduct, John Raley, actual innocence

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle