AUSTIN (KXAN) - In the nine months since Michael Morton was set free from prison, exonerated by DNA in his wife's 1986 murder, he has been on a mission to change the law when it comes to accountability for prosecutors who fail to share evidence with defense attorneys.
"Things are going along quite well, actually," Morton said Thursday night in Austin. "My goal is just to prevent what happened to me from happening to anyone else."
Morton and one of his attorneys, John Raley, spoke to a group of criminal defense attorneys gathered to hear about their fight to have evidence tested for DNA, which would ultimately set Morton free.
"This is the sort of case that should be a wake up call to all of us," said Raley, a civil attorney from Houston, who worked pro bono on the Morton case. "People need to remember that by prosecuting and convicting an innocent man, a guilty man is free to commit other crimes."
Morton is sharing his story publicly when he is asked to do so because he says he wants to change the law when it comes to accountability for prosecutors who fail to share evidence with the defense, which he believes happened in his case and led to his wrongful conviction.
"Make them (prosecutors) eligible for a small fine and they also have their license at stake if they get caught doing something wrong," Morton said. :I don't want to up-end the system, just this little change."
Morton and Raley told the crowd Thursday about the six-year battle to have a bloody bandana that found near the Morton home where Christine Morton was murdered- tested for DNA. Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley refused to test the bandana for six years before a judge ordered the testing.
In August 2011, attorneys for Morton learned the DNA found on the bandana, mixed with Christine Morton's blood, did not belong to Michael Morton, but rather, to a known felon, Mark Norwood, who is now charged with Christine's murder.
Morton learned about the result of the DNA testing on his birthday, Aug. 12, 2011, while sitting in his prison cell.
"On my last birthday, I was wearing white and I was in the land of concrete and steel," he said.
In the months since his release from prison, Morton has reconnected with his son, and is relishing the role of grandfather to granddaughter Christine Marie, named for her grandmother.
"I have purchased a little real estate. I'm in a relationship with somebody and lots of things are happening," Morton said about his life today.
He is looking forward to celebrating his first birthday as a free man in 25 years, but says he doesn't know how to respond when someone asks what he wants as a gift.
"Everything is so nice now that this sounds kind of lame but I really don't want anything special. This is special," he said.
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