Former State District Judge Ken Anderson (Texas Tribune photo by Justin Dehn)
AUSTIN (September 24, 2013)—Williamson County State District Judge Ken Anderson, accused of withholding evidence as a prosecutor in a murder trial that sent an innocent man to prison for nearly 25 years resigned Tuesday.
Anderson submitted his resignation to Gov. Rick Perry, writing that it’s effective immediately, but not giving a reason.
Anderson is a former district attorney who prosecuted Michael Morton in 1987 for the murder of his wife.
Morton was exonerated in 2011 based on DNA evidence.
In April, a special court of inquiry determined that Anderson intentionally concealed evidence favorable to Morton's defense.
Anderson is charged with criminal contempt and tampering with evidence charges.
Richard Roper was U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas from 2004 to 2008 and now specializes in business law, was named special prosecutor in the case against Anderson.
If convicted, Anderson could face as much as 10 years in prison.
Anderson, who has denied any wrongdoing, was sworn in as judge of Williamson County’s 277th District Court after serving as the county’s district attorney for nearly 17 years and as an assistant prosecutor for more than five years.
In March in San Angelo, a jury found Mark Alan Norwood, 58, guilty of capital murder in the beating death of Christine Morton, who was killed as she lay in bed in the home she and her husband shared in Williamson County.
Investigators said new DNA tests on a bloody bandanna found near Morton's home pointed to Norwood as the killer.
Michael Morton called the conviction a “mixed bag.”
“It's not a celebration, and it's not a happy day,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement calling the verdict “a dose of long overdue justice.”
“No jury verdict can bring back the life that was tragically stolen from the young mother, Christine Morton,” he said, “nor can it recover the devastating years that her husband Michael Morton spent unjustly imprisoned for her murder.
“We can only hope that today’s verdict provides some much-deserved, but woefully delayed, justice for a family that suffered so terribly for so long,” he said.
Norwood was automatically sentenced to life in prison, but will be eligible for parole in 15 years because of laws in effect at the time of the murder.