Investigation

Witness Accounts DNA Results

On Tuesday, August 9, 2011, counsel for both parties were informed by the Texas Department of Public Safety that a "hit" had been obtained in the national convicted-offender DNA database to the actual source of the DNA mixed with Christine Morton's blood and hair on the bandana. Prior to such testing, prosecutors tried to block DNA testing on the bandana, they asserted that such testing could not possibly substantiate Mr. Morton's third-party-killer theory, despite having undisclosed information in the State's own files that indicated otherwise. Nevertheless, the test results provided that “the partial, predominant DNA profile obtained from the scrapings taken from the unstained areas of the topside of the blue bandana originated from an unknown male. The minor alleles are consistent with the partial profile obtained for Christine Morton. Michael Morton is excluded as a possible donor to this sample.”

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Witness Accounts Eyewitness Accounts

The newly-disclosed obtained by Morton’s Innocence Team revealed that law enforcement hide a telephone interview conducted by the WCSO's Sgt. Don Wood - the State's chief investigator into Christine's death in 1986-87 - and the victim's mother (Michael's mother-in-law), Rita Kirkpatrick, on August 24, 1986 (eleven days after Christine's body was found). In the interview, Mrs. Kirkpatrick reports that earlier that day, her three-year-old grandson, Eric, had confided to her, in chilling detail, how he had witnessed an unknown man murder his mother, a conversation that Mrs. Kirkpatrick then wrote down and read to Sgt. Wood over the telephone. Rather than take this new information and refocus the investigation to "look for the monster" still at large, Sgt. Wood immediately began - after falsely telling Mrs. Kirkpatrick that they were "off the tape" - to try and convince her that perhaps Eric had simply failed to recognize his own father as the killer. His attempt to convince this grieving and vulnerable grandmother of this possibility included, among other strained claims that had no basis in fact, his speculation that Michael might have committed the murder while wearing a full-body scuba diving suit in August, thus leading his own son to believe that he was a "monster" in disguise.

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Witness Accounts Evidence of a Third-Party Intruder

Prosecutors also failed to disclose that the day after the murder (Aug. 14), a WCSO officer named Traylor was stopped by a neighbor of the Morton’s. The man said that both his wife and their next door neighbor "had on several occasions observed a male park a green van on the street behind (the Mortons') address, then the subject would get out and walk into the wooded area off the road." The witness "advised that from the way his wife talks," he believes that their neighbor "knows where the subject with the green van lives." Similarly, prosecutors also concealed the fact that a woman named Linda Looney telephoned Sgt. Wood on 8/15/86 to report that three years earlier, she alerted police to a strange man on the roof of the home next door who she saw climbing "over a wall." She said that two weeks later, she found a piece of wood fashioned into a homemade club in her storm gutter; and that the man who was caught lurking next door turned out to be a construction worker who, according to his foreman, "has these uncontrollable urges to do things like that." (Ms. Looney lived in Austin at the time she left this message, but the report does not indicate if she resided in Williamson County at the time of the incident.) Ms. Looney further appears to have stated that when she saw the news about Christine Morton, she thought that "it could have been her" who was killed instead.

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