Former State District Judge Ken Anderson (Texas Tribune photo by Justin Dehn)
GEORGETOWN (November 8, 2013) Former Williamson County State District Judge Ken Anderson, accused withholding evidence as a prosecutor in a murder trial that sent an innocent man to prison for nearly 25 years, agreed Friday to serve 10 days in jail and to complete 500 hours of community service.
He was fined $500.
Anderson also agreed Friday to disbarment as part of a sweeping deal that’s expected to end all criminal and civil cases against the embattled ex-district attorney, who presided over a tough-on-crime Texas county for 30 years.
Anderson served 11 years in Williamson County as a state judge before he resigned in September.
He could have been sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison if he had been convicted of tampering with evidence in the 1987 murder trial of Michael Morton, whose conviction in his wife's death was overturned in 2011.
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 was charged with criminal contempt and tampering with evidence charges.
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.