tv Murder in Mexico Falcon Lake CNN December 15, 2013 1:00am-2:01am PST
i wanted to sing. it was just -- it was like nothing i ever experienced in my life. it was pure bliss. i woke up listening to my alarm. beep beep beep beep like it did every morning. i sat up in my bunk and everything was there. my headphones were hanging on the hook. i didn't remember doing that. my alarm was off reset. i didn't recall doing that. my radio was turned off. i -- just -- and i was thinking about not what was -- because i knew what it was. but why. why would that happen? why me? i'm not a -- i'm not a prophet, i'm not a role model.
i'm just a -- i'm just a guy in prison. and i came to realize that the simplest thing was that i had cried out to god. hey, i got nothing here. show me something. and all that happened was i got an answer. he showed me something. i said, my life changed in this room. in that prison cell, on ramsey one, my world changed. >> the innocence project is an independent, nonprofit entity starting in 1988. my colleague peter neufeld and i became expert in dna testing and immediately realized that it had the potential to exonerate the
wrongfully convicted as well as find people who really committed the crimes. the truth is that barry and i had been talking about michael morton since the innocent project opened its doors in 1992. >> and bill was one of those people who commands enormous respect among his peers, in texas and across the country. and when he looks you in the eye, you know kind of like that sam elliott character, you know, from "the big labowski" or something and says i think michael morton is innocent. i feel terrible about this. it's the most important case to me. you've got to help me. of course we're going to help him. >> we began representing michael in 2002 after his lawyer who had been representing him for free for many years called us and asked us to take another look at the case for him. bill thought we might be able to bring something that he as a lawyer so close to the case couldn't do. so we began our review of the case and took it on shortly after that.
>> i got a call from the innocence project in early 2004. and i knew who they were and their reputation so i was honored to receive a call from them, but i wondered why they were calling me. >> and hannah told us that she had met this terrific lawyer at fulbright and jaworski who knew a lot about medical malpractice and medical issues and we should definitely try to involve him as a local lawyer in this matter an that was john r al draley. >> apparently they knew someone who had seen me try a medical malpractice case recently. there were issues in this case that they thought i might be useful. >> we were getting somebody with real expertise in medical malpractice but a passionate advocate, somebody whose brother and father were united states attorneys in oklahoma, somebody who played football at oklahoma and was a talented trial lawyer and a great human. so that was good luck. >> i was honored to be a part of
that in any way that i could. they asked me to take the case pro bono and to file a motion for dna testing for michael morton. and i did. >> after 2001, when i figuratively and literally saw the light, that changed everything. that experience may have just happened that one night, but the way i've come to interpret it or internalize it, accept it, took awhile. i'm not accustomed to supernatural experiences. it took me awhile to kind of appreciate it or to understand it. those three things that god exists and that he is wise and that he loves me made me not really care a great deal whether or not i spent the rest of my life in there. so if i was going to get out, it was kind of like well, you want me out get me out [ laughter ]
>> first time i met john raley i >> first time i met john raley i was on the michael unit. we didn't have to talk through the glass, we sat down at a table. at one point john excused himself to go to the restroom and he had left his sports jacket folded up on the table. and it was -- it took every little bit of will power i had not to reach out and just kind of touch it. because it looked so soft and comfortable. and it looked so good. >> i cross-examine people for a living. i have a pretty good sense of when somebody's lying to me. not always but most of the time. there was nothing about this man that didn't speak to actual innocence. you could tell that everything he said came from a grounded level of integrity and honor. and i left amazingly moved by
that. and i came home to my wife kelly, who i ask for advice on a lot of things. and i said, kelly, my god, he's innocent. we have to get him out. and she looked at me in the eye and she said, "then do it." [ male announcer ] this is jim, a man who doesn't stand still. but jim has afib, atrial fibrillation -- an irregular heartbeat, not caused by a heart valve problem. that puts jim at a greater risk of stroke. for years, jim's medicine tied him to a monthly trip to the clinic to get his blood tested. but now, with once-a-day xarelto®, jim's on the move. jim's doctor recommended xarelto®. like warfarin, xarelto® is proven effective to reduce afib-related stroke risk. but xarelto® is the first and only once-a-day prescription blood thinner for patients with afib not caused by a heart valve problem. that doesn't require routine blood monitoring.
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steve's and he said put some money on my books. there's a lot of deception, a lot of liars and a lot of men who are entrapped in bitterness and hatred for their lives and they blame you and these officers and the officials that put them here. and this is an evil place. i've sat in the day room and i've had men say, i'm innocent. i'm innocent. and yet there's just something about them that says, you know, you're still hiding. you're still running. you're covering it up. you've said so many lies you believe it now. but when mike spoke to me and said i'm innocent i just believed him. i just believed him. >> there is no scientific basis for timing death based on stomach contents alone. all of the medical literature then and of course now says that. dr. byers didn't see the body until it was too late to do a rigor mortis or liver mortis analysis. so he did this stomach contents analysis. and really it was probably on
the basis of that stomach contents junk science that michael was convicted. >> from the autopsy with vaginal swabs, rectal swabs, oral swabs, all the usual stuff, clippings, we were having those things tested thinking that would reveal the assailant. and so those results were coming back all negative negative negative. >> in february of 2005, we filed our first motion. and we sought dna testing on the swabs from christine's body. we asked for the bloody bandanna found 100 yards behind the house along what we always believed to be the escape route of the murderer to be dna tested. john bradley was the district attorney of williamson county at the time we filed the motion for dna testing. so i called up mr. bradley and i introduced myself. and i tried to explain to him the logic of what we were doing,
that we were only seeking the truth. and he said it would muddy the waters, that testing the dna would muddy the waters. and i didn't understand what he meant. i said, mr. bradley, truth clarifies. why oppose it? it makes no sense. but he continued to oppose it. he asked for several extensions in even responding to our motions. so months passed and more months passed as the court granted them. >> one of the few, very few benefits of being in the penitentiary is that you have time for almost endless self examination, reflection, meditation, call it whatever you want. you unfortunately get to review every word you ever said, harsh and otherwise.
people you've known, the things you've done. if you so choose, you can try to make your time there something of an monastic retreat. it's never easy, but those personal inventories rack up and rack up. and it can change you. >> this can be a cruel place. and you can go for years without any provision, without deodorant. and you lay there and you stink and you sweat through 110 degrees in a metal building that you live in for the rest of your life. you've got your due punishment for your crime, okay. but there's just some small things that men need to make them feel like at least you're
real or you're human still, even though you've been deemed a monster. mike reached out to many, many men in ways that i don't see a lot of people do. >> but one of the things that mike always did, and that's when he went to the commissary. he always ended up buying either moon pies or ice cream cones or something to be able to come back and to distribute to those guys that didn't have anything. could you imagine living across or down the hall or wherever from a man that just comes in, and he doesn't know you and you've never introduced yourself to him. next thing you know there's an ice cream sitting on your bed. and it's 110 degrees outside. >> on march 7, 2008, we had a hearing before judge stubblefield who was the presiding judge. it was the first hearing we'd been able to have on the case. there was no hearing at all
about our motion for dna testing. he just ruled on that without a hearing. i pointed out that we've now been fighting for three years to get this testing, and that mr. bradley had fought us every step of the way. at the time i thought three years was a long time. but i told the court and i'm quoting "your honor, there is a blood-stained bandanna that was found at the crime scene. it was found, taken into custody by the sheriff. it contained a hair. this bandanna may contain the blood of the victim, christine morton, plus perhaps mingled with the blood of the murderer. but it may also contain skin cells, saliva, sweat, there's also this hair that may contain the dna of the murderer. they've never been subjected to dna testing." >> i was very honest with the judges we were in front of. i would say, look, judge, we don't know if this bandanna is connected to the crime. it certainly seems like a real possibility given that it's a
quiet suburban neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of violent crime. there's a bloody murder then 100 feet away there's a bandanna with somebody's blood on it. but sure, it could be from a construction worker. it could be from somebody who cut themselves on the way out of a house and dropped a bandanna. there's only one way to find out which is do the dna test. ♪ morning, turtle. ♪ my friends are all around me ♪ my friends, they do surround me ♪ ♪ i hope this never ends ♪ and we'll be the best of friends ♪ [ male announcer ] the 2014 chevrolet traverse... all set? all set. [ male announcer ] ...with three rows of spacious seating for up to eight. imagine that. chevrolet. find new roads. kand i don't have time foris morunreliable companies.b angie's list definitely saves me time and money. for over 18 years we've helped people
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it was just taking time. and michael is in prison and he's innocent, and we know that he's innocent. so we sued john bradley in federal court. >> michael morton was convicted of killing his wife and sentenced to life in prison. his attorneys say the case boils down to testing a bloody bandanna found behind the home where christine morton was beaten to death. if that contains dna evidence from the crime scene it could show someone else did it. but d.a. county attorney john bradley says that's a pipe dream. >> if i got a promise from michael morton that he would accept criminal responsibility for killing his wife should the bandanna exclude any other mystery killer, you know what, i would consider doing that. >> well, the third court of appeals ruled morton can test the bloody bandanna but that won't happen anytime soon. the district attorney's office is appealing that decision. >> while we're waiting for the
testing to be done, they're in such demand that the queue is a very long time, michael in 2010 was offered a parole. and i said, that's great. and he said, but the condition is i have to show remorse for my crime. and i thought, i can't advise him on this. i don't know what i would do. i might just say i'm really sorry, let me go. >> i didn't really necessarily make a deal with god that i wasn't going to lie to get out. but there was that -- that was there. i wasn't going to lie. >> i said, what are you going to say, michael? and he said, all i have left is my actual innocence.
and if i have to be in prison the rest of my life, i'm not giving that up. and when i heard him say that, i felt this -- this rush of emotion come over me. and i said, michael, i promise you i will never quit ever. as long as i'm breathing air, i'm trying to get you out of prison. >> he's not on anybody's payroll. i had no money to give him. after being publicly labelled and chastised and called a lot of names, it affects you when
somebody does something like that, to publicly broadcast good things about you that say, this is a -- to this day, he's my friend. and he's my brother. >> around this time during the whole workup, my co-counsel, nita morrison with the innocence project sent a freedom of information act request for the sheriff's file. and what was found in that file was amazing. >> there is an offense report from 11 days after chris morton was murdered. and it's a police report made by
the chief investigator, don wood. and it's a transcript of a conversation he has with chris's mother, rita kirkpatrick. the story that rita tells to don wood about what eric saw. >> and it describes in eerie detail the monster's here. what's he doing? he hit mommy. mommy's crying. is she still crying? no, mommy stopped. the monsters threw a blue suitcase on the bed. he's mad. a monster coming into the house. that's what eric called the murderer. and i think it's a great description. he said it was a big man with a big mustache. did he have daddy's gun or mommy's purse? yeah. those were the things that were stolen. >> there is a critical question that rita had the sense to ask eric in that conversation. and that question was, where was
daddy, eric? was daddy there? no, mommy and eric was there. >> but coming from rita kirkpatrick, chris's mother, talking about eric talking about a monster with red hands, and that person is clearly not michael morton is devastating to the state's case. and they sat on this information for 25 years. >> don wood says it. he said that rita said, you need to stop looking at michael and go after the monster. and we never heard that. and there was also a report from the first week of the investigation about a green van where a man would get out and go into the woods behind the house, which is where they found the bandanna.
he was casing the house before the murder. that was in their file. in 1987. they knew. >> once we got the dna results and we knew a, it was christine morton's blood and b, that it wasn't michael's blood -- or skin cells i should say on the ban dana, none of his dna, that was terrific. >> the dna of this other person was intermingled with christine's dna. it really places the bandanna at the murder scene. >> so the next step was to work with the texas state crime lab to get it entered into the database to see if it matched any convicted offenders or unsolved crimes. fortunately, there is now a vast database of dna profiles from convicted offenders and unsolved crimes plus codus, a national
database run by the fbi which all states participate in. any crime lab can take a dna profile, put it into a big computer in the sky, and within hours be able to tell if it matches more than one of 8 million or more profiles in the system. >> and they got a direct hit on a man with a known record of felonies in three states, including breaking and entering residences and assault with intent to murder. and his name is mark allen norwood. [ male announcer ] if you can clear a crowd but not your nasal congestion,
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>> we found out where he was living in austin during the time of christine's murder and for a few years after that. and a paralegal in our office found the news story in cold cases, a woman bludgeoned to death, and checked the location. and it was a block from where norwood was living at the time. the woman's name was debra jan baker and she was killed a couple years after christine. exactly the same way. bludgeoned to death in her bed. a few days after the hit on debra jan baker with norwood's hair at that murder scene, was announced in court, john bradley contacted barry scheck to discuss terms of michael's release. >> i received an e-mail from
john raley about a month before, telling me that my father was innocent and that there would be new evidence exonerating him, and he would probably get out of jail. i was almost rude in my response. i was -- i shut the door. i didn't want anything to disrupt the life that i had. i felt like life was finally normal. i had a wife, i had a baby on the way. there was no room in my life for this. >> when they came to get me to say, you know, pack it up, you got to go, i gave away almost everything i owned. and there were some hand shakes and some hugs. and as i was leaving, the guard was escorting me off, people started making noise and hollering goodbyes and other profane statements of encouragement. and they started yelling.
and there was some fist pumping up in the air. a couple of the guys were beating on the tables. and the guard got a little uneasy. it was like is this a riot or what? i looked up on the second tier lined with faces, and people were yelling and cheering. and i never expected that. and i love those guys for that. it was just such a -- man, such a sendoff. completely spontaneous. it was just the strangest thing and the most wonderful thing. >> after spending nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife, a williamson county man is now free due to recent dna evidence. >> the cameras are rolling. >> he was sentenced to life in prison. >> attorney that had been working to free morton. >> you guys tell us when you're ready with the cameras. >> by issue of agreement of the
parties i have recommended relief to the court of appeals. you do have my sympathies. you have my apologies. >> thank god this wasn't a capital case. i only had life. because it gave the saints at the innocence project time to do this. >> i would like to say this is one of the happiest days of my life, and i thank god for it. >> we are so thankful the truth finally came out. >> yes. >> and we're happy happy happy. >> okay. thank you all very much. >> it was a somewhat chaotic. there was a procession, cameras were everywhere. people, i didn't know which way we were going. >> all of this time rushed back at me. my time of only seven years, michael's of 25. i stopped with michael, and i
said, when you step outside, breathe freedom. >> the sun was beaming down right there. it was this beautiful fall day. the sun felt so good on my face that i kind of tilted my head back to get a suntan or something, trying to just drink it in. >> the day of his exoneration, i think they broadcast it on the internet and on the news in austin. i remember seeing my father probably for the first time outside of a picture online that we saw or an old family photo. but i felt like things were changing. it was visual, tangible evidence that everything that i knew about that part of my life was going to change. zçjzmó
mark allen norwood a violent criminal with a record going back three decades arrested in a murder that sent the wrong man to prison for 25 years. we've just confirmed he's also a suspect in a second murder. >> the victim in that case, debra baker. >> well, when we first got the phone call about the possibility that there was a connection to another case and that dna might be involved, i thought there was a huge mistake. >> bringing this all up again was just a kick in the gut. it was a nightmare, and everything you'd ever wanted all at the same time. >> this had been this big hole that never closed for a quarter of a century. we always hoped for closure.
and as much as you can get from that. but i -- i hoped it was true. >> when the police reopened the case this time, we'd been through this with the cold case and -- but it was different this time. this was the first time they showed us pictures of somebody. >> this morning a court date was set for the man indicted in the murder of christine morton in austin back in 1986. you might recall that mark norwood was indicted for the murder of christine morton when michael morton was found innocent of those charges after spending 25 years in prison. this morning norwood stood in court next to his attorney. officials say dna on a crime scene bandanna helped free morton because it belongs to norwood. >> in williamson county this morning attorneys for the innocence project filed a 140-page report on their investigation of the michael morton case. it alleges that then district attorney ken anderson refused to call chief investigator don wood to the witness stand because he
didn't want to turn over key documents in wood's trial toward his defense lawyer. >> and as woefully inadequate as i realize it is, i want to formally apologize for the system's failure to mr. morton and to every other person who was adversely affected by this verdict. >> do you feel he's responsible for your mother's murder? >> in part in part, absolutely. >> how so? >> well, he let norwood go. he didn't get him when he should have. and my mother could be alive right now. if he had gotten the right guy and hadn't focused on michael morton, we could be a totally different life right now. i could have my mother still. >> in our justice system we have these prosecutors that have too much power and too little accountability. michael morton's not special. he's a normal, everyday guy like any of us. i am michael morton. you are michael morton. this could happen to any of us. and it is a damn shame.
>> i guess i really have to say that the prosecution just did not let us know everything we should have known. we just didn't have all the facts. and you can't find someone guilty and just trust your gut if you don't have all the information. and we didn't. >> as long as i live i'll still have mixed feelings about this case. when i look at these reports and so forth and see what was withheld from us, the very tools we needed to work with we didn't have. what michael got was a fundamentally unfair trial when the constitution says that you are entitled to a fair trial. >> i am hopeful that this case sends a message that the law will be form followed, and that if the law is not followed there
will be consequences. >> a texas supreme court justice has cleared the way for michael morton to find out why evidence that could have set him free was not turned over to his lawyers 25 years ago. >> we really do believe in due process. we really do believe that people shouldn't hide evidence that doesn't support their cause when it's their obligation to reveal it. >> it is important to note that judge ken anderson has said he did nothing wrong in the morton case, but also testified in a deposition that he just did not remember most of the details surrounding this case from more than 25 years ago. >> i don't remember a lot of that. >> i have no recollection. i didn't have any recollection of all these writs being filed. i didn't know who tried the case with me. i don't recall getting asked a lot of factual questions. you know, i literally had totally forgot the issues in this case. >> it all looks like now all they cared about was protecting reputations, protecting
colleagues, and truth and justice, those things that should have been the most important things, they weren't considered any importance at all. >> other people often feel far more anger than i do. vindication is very, very good. but it's something i knew all along. and so i'm happy for everybody else's enlightenment. but it's really nothing new for me. >> it's an experience i'm sure he'll tell you he wishes he never had to go through. but as much as i hate to admit it -- and he will, too -- it made me a better person.
i think it made him one, too. woke him up. >> michael is in a doubly terrible position, because he not only was wrongfully convicted but he's a crime victim himself. he lost a wife that he loved. he lost his child. unbelievable. >> as a child, if i loved my father, if i acknowledged that i loved him, part of me would have to acknowledge that he existed. part of me would have to acknowledge that he had killed my mother. it wouldn't have made sense to love him if he had killed my mother. ♪ wow...look at you. i've always tried to give it my best shot. these days i'm living with a higher risk of stroke
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when my son and i first saw each other, we weren't sure how it was going to go. >> i almost felt like i wanted to just get it over with. i wanted to see my father so i could say i saw him, and then whichever way i felt, i didn't care. >> that evening my son showed up, newlywed wife, and we shook hands immediately but that morphed into a hug. >> i gave him a hug. and we sat there awkwardly for the next couple of hours just looking at each other, sharing little stories. it was very surreal. >> when i was looking at my son,
i noticed that our shoes were disturbingly similar. the way we held our heads, our gaits as we walked were eerily similar. and the genes are there. >> it didn't feel like he was my father. it didn't feel like it was the dad that i knew growing up. everything was different. >> they have a swing out in the garden the back of what i call the raley estate. and eric and i went out there, john took us out there, then john left. the lights were off. it was dark at night. and we were rocking in this big swing gently. and the years just melted away there in the dark. >> you made it fall apart. >> then he saw that hair. >> mommy wasted your time. >> look up, mama. you're on camera. >> getting to talk to my father
about my mother was something that i had waited for for a long long time. i never knew as a child that he actually loved my mother. it was just very special to hear him say things about her that i had never been told. and i realized that he was able to tell me things that nobody else would. >> i'll hold her. >> why do you say that? >> nothing. we're not doing anything. >> it was almost as if something completely changed about our relationship when we were able to talk about my mother, talk about his wife, our family.
>> eating again. >> mike, come on. >> no, no. >> mommy's a movie star. >> i was always told when i was a kid from my family that my mother was like my guardian angel. so she was watching out for me or taking care of me. sometimes i liked to imagine that she would be here sitting in the room and she'd be happy. she'd be smiling. >> sing a song. >> when my father told me about my mother when we were able to talk about family, talk about life before everything, everything was cleaned away, everything was wiped away.
everything was okay. >> it was like this melding. we just came back. just -- just as natural as that. and i couldn't have planned it any better. it just was really good. my daughter-in-law, maggie, gave birth to a beautiful little girl. they named her after my wife, christine marie. i've never seen a more perfect child. i think she is just gorgeous. >> so when i watch my father hold my daughter, it's like watching a scene out of a movie. because she's so young. maggie and i are still learning how to be parents. for me it was special.
life has come full circle. it's kind of corny. it's kind of hokey to say it like that, but it really has. if there's anything that symbolizes that everything's back to normal as much as it can be, it's when i see my father hold my daughter. now that i've reunited with my father, now that we've spent time together, now that he's just as much a part of my family as anybody, i do love him. >> now everything is different for me. the conundrums of life, the philosophical paradoxes, the metaphysical problems, i feel like i get it now. i understand suffering and unfairness. i can't think of anything better to receive than that. i'm good with this.
this world, what's happened to me, where i'm going, what i'm doing, and i know three little simple things now because of that. one, god exists. two, he's wise. he's smarter than i am. and three, he loves me. and if you know those three things, what's your problem? -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com ♪
♪ are you sure that your husband got shot? >> yes. he was hit in the head. >> a brutal killing on glistening lake. >> you saw your husband get shot and thrown from the jet ski? >> yeah. >> were they caught in a cross fire? but the war over there, two cartels fight each other for control. >> drug deal gone bad? or was this cold-blooded murder?