Jury Returns Guilty Verdict In Controversial Central Texas Murder Case

A jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday in the trial of a man accused in a killing for which the victim’s husband spent nearly 25 years behind bars after his wrongful conviction.

Mark Alan Norwood (Jail photo)

SAN ANGELO (March 27, 2013)—A man charged in a Central Texas murder case that attracted national attention because the original defendant was wrongfully convicted and served 25 years in prison was found guilty of capital murder Wednesday in San Angelo.

Jurors found Mark Alan Norwood, 58, guilty of capital murder in the beating death of Christine Morton in 1986.

Prosecutors weren’t seeking the death penalty and 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.

Morton 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.

Morton's husband Michael was convicted of the killing but was later exonerated by the same DNA test results that implicated Norwood.

Morton, 58, was freed in 2011.

He called the conviction a “mixed bag.”

“It's not a celebration, and it's not a happy day,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The newspaper reported that Morton hugged Norwood's mother and brother after the verdict.

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.

A district court judge eventually will decide whether the man who prosecuted Morton, Ken Anderson, should face criminal charges on allegations he intentionally hid evidence from Morton's defense attorneys.

Anderson is accused of not turning over all documents that could have proved Morton’s innocence.

Anderson 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.

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