Yesterday, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson, pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence that could have been exculpatory to the defendant. Anderson will not be doing nearly enough prison time, only days in jail, for knowingly and willingly hiding evidence that proved that the person he was prosecuting was not the person that committed the murder. Anderson will also give up his law degree and serve 500 of community service. He had already resigned from the bench in September.
Micheal Morton, the man whom Anderson wrongly prosecuted for the murder of his wife, was released from prison in 2011 after serving 25 years. Ten days in jail, likely out in four or five days with good behavior doesn’t feel like total justice although it is a step in the right direction.
After celebrating his birthday at a restaurant with his wife, Christine, and their three-year-old son, on August 12, 1986, Michael Morton and his family returned home. The next morning, Morton left a note on the bathroom vanity expressing disappointment that his wife had declined to have sex the night before, but ending with the words, “I love you.” He then left for work at about 5:30 a.m., arriving half an hour later; his co-workers would later testify that he did not act unusually.
That morning, Christine’s body was found. She appeared to have been bludgeoned to death in her bed with a weapon made of wood. A wicker basket and suitcase were piled on top of her. The sheets upon which she lay were stained with what was later determined to be semen.
The day after Christine’s body was found, August 14, police recovered a bloody bandana found at a construction site located about 100 yards from the Morton home.
Later that month, Christine’s mother told police that the Mortons’ three-year-old son, Eric, had been present during the murder. According to Eric, the murderer was not Michael, but a “monster.” Eric described the crime scene and murder in great detail, and specifically said that his “Daddy” was “not home” when it happened. Upon questioning the Mortons’ neighbors, police were told that a man had repeatedly parked a green van on the street behind the Mortons’ house and walked off into a nearby wooded area. Police records also indicated that Christine Morton’s missing Visa card may have been recovered in a San Antonio jewelry store, and that a San Antonio officer stated that he could identify the woman who had attempted to use the card. According to Morton’s defense lawyers, none of this evidence was turned over to them at the trial.
Morton maintained his innocence. He believed that his wife had been killed by an intruder sometime after he left for work on the morning of August 13.
Ken Anderson wasn’t the first and won’t be the last prosecutor to intentionally hide or destroy evidence to help achieve a conviction in order to boost his or her career. What we can work towards is that he is the last one who is caught and not punished in a meaningful way.