Updated 04/20/2013 09:46 AM
After visiting Tarrant County Judge Louis Sturns issued an arrest warrant for disgraced District Judge Ken Anderson, the former prosecutor booked himself to Williamson County Jail. He later posted a $2,500 bond.
Sturns ruled Friday afternoon there is probable cause Anderson committed criminal contempt of court, tampering with or fabricating evidence and tampering with a government records during in the 1987 murder investigations and subsequent trial of Michael Morton.Morton–then a 32-year-old Safeway store manager–was tried and convicted under the watch of then Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson.
Sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife Christine, Morton spent almost 25 years behind bars before being released in October, 2011. The Supreme Court of Texas ordered an investigation of the Morton case in the way of a rarely used Court of Inquiry.
Following Friday’s decision by Judge Sturns, Anderson could face his own trial.
During the February Court of Inquiry, Anderson was the subject of the 13,000 page case file surrounding the circumstances of the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton in 1987.
“It’s accountability,” Michael Morton said after Friday’s hearing. “We should all stand up for what we’ve done, and no one is above the law.”
Morton’s attorney John Raley is credited with reading thousands of pages of court records in the case to discover Anderson’s–now deemed intentional–mistakes.
“If we are truly seeking justice in this country, and we should be, it should be about being open and transparent and letting the truth come out,” Raley said. “I believe that was done here in the Court of Inquiry.”
Houston’s John Raley’s worked on the Morton case for six years to secure new DNA testing for a bloody bandana found near the Morton home. Findings of the test revealed Christine’s blood mixed with the DNA of drifter Mark Norwood. Norwood was charged murder in the Morton crime late 2011.
“In the rare instances where there is knowing and intentional misconduct, as the court found today, as there is probable cause to believe Ken Anderson committed, it’s critical there be accountability,” Nina Morrison with the Innocence Project said. “We are very grateful that the state of Texas, unlike many states, has the mechanisms to have that come to light.”
As the lead prosecutor at the time of the Morton trial, Anderson is accused of withholding evidence during trial, including a neighbor’s report of a green van spotted on the side of the Morton and a conversation between the Mortons 3-year-old-son Eric and his grandmother, Rita Kirkpatrick, in which the toddler said a “monster” other that his father killed his mother.
WilCo Deputy Don Wood interviewed Ms. Kirkpatrick, compiling a transcript. Judge Sturns ruled Anderson failed to turn over the document to defense attorneys, as well at the trial judge, as ordered by the court.
After the week-long Court of Inquiry wrapped, Sturns reviewed a mountain of depositions, evidence and case law to reach his final decision.