GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) - New DNA evidence discovered will set a man free, 25 years after he went to prison, convicted of killing his wife. Michael Morton will appear on Tuesday in Williamson County Court and officially released after Monday's decision by Judge Sid Harle.
His attorneys said new DNA results prove Morton did not kill his wife back in 1986, and they asked that he be released immediately.
Harle agreed, after hearing of new evidence giving cause for why Morton should be set free. Morton could be out of prison as early as Monday night.
John Raley and Barry Sheck, of the New-York-based Innocence Project and part of the defense team, were in the courtroom Monday. Raley, a Houston lawyer, has worked pro-bono on the Morton case since 2003. Also on the defense team and in court Monday was Nina Morrison.
- Click here to read the 97-page court document summarizing the case.
- Click here to see a timeline of events
Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley agreed to vacate Morton's conviction, which means to set it aside or void it.
"When this case was decided, the ink was barely dry on my license," Bradley said.
Bradley added that a prosecutor's job is to see that justice is done. He said sometimes the pros have to be called in to re-examine cases and make sure the defense meets certain standards.
Bradley said this is the type of the newly discovered evidence that warrants vacating a conviction.
Christine Morton was found beaten to death on Aug. 13, 1986, in the couple's Round Rock home. The following year her husband, Michael, was convicted of killing her and sentenced to life in prison. He has always maintained his innocence.
In August, a bombshell was revealed in court. New DNA testing on a bloody bandanna discovered near the crime scene found Christine Morton's DNA mixed with the DNA of a known violent offender, someone who is not Michael Morton.
Last week came another revelation in court -- that the case may be related to a cold case being investigated in Travis County. Specifics of this case had previously not been revealed due to a gag order issued by the court, but that was lifted on Monday. However, the suspect's name will not be released. Officials believe he committed a later, similar murder in Travis County.
"His record includes extensive drug abuse, burglary of a residence for which he was convicted of a felony, assault, including assault with intent to murder," Raley said of the man who is now suspected of Christine Morton's murder.
Morton was not present at Monday's hearing. He is in prison in the Michael Unit at Tennessee Colony.
Midday Monday the judge and attorneys were going over a timeline of how the case developed.
A Williamson County judge will file a bench warrant to have Morton moved, according to Jason Clark, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman.
Officials at the TDCJ Michael Unit will validate the bench warrant.
Most likely, officers from Williamson County will pick Morton up from the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony to move him to Williamson County. An exact time will not be made public, for security reasons.
Morton's release is dependent on when the bench warrant is filed and pickup of Morton is scheduled, according to Clark.
A hearing is set for 3 p.m. Tuesday in regard to vacating the case. Morton is expected to appear at the hearing, according to The Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.
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