AUSTIN (KXAN) - A man once thought to be a murderer is the subject of a new documentary about the darkest time in his life.
Michael Morton is the main character in a big screen story of his wrongful conviction in the killing of his wife. An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton story premiered Monday at South By Southwest.
"I think it's akin to people keeping photo albums. And they have snapshots of little events. And this is just one photo album," he said.
Seemingly ever modest, ever pensive, Michael Morton admits his is a story that needed to be told in this format so people keep talking about it.
"It's a way of trying to get people's attention not to make myself popular, but to remind them that their lives could go off the rails real quickly, real badly," he said.
And he hopes the legal community understands seeking the truth is always worth the effort.
The 90-minute film goes on an emotional journey of how his life was torn apart when his wife Christine was found murdered. A Williamson County jury convicted Morton in 1987. But it was nearly 25 years before a re-examination of the case with the help of new DNA evidence exonerated him.
The film also talks about Morton's curtailed relationship with his son, who was three went he was sent away.
The documentary's director, longtime Texas journalist Al Rienert, said this kind of story just can't be made up.
"As a journalist you're supposed to keep some sort of objective distance from your story and that was just about impossible in this case," he said.
Even those at SXSW in line to see the documentary say Morton's story of survival needs to be put on a very public stage.
"I think there's a need for it. I think a lot of people don't understand what he's been through. And what anybody else could end up going through," Andria Hill who works in the Travis County court system.
"It's along the lines of Nelson Mandela who spent years in prison," said Danny Shapiro of Austin.
After the South by Southwest tents are torn down, there's another showing the 'An Unreal Dream: the Michael Morton story' for the general public next Saturday at the Topher Theater on S. Lamar.
KXAN asked Morton if he hopes the film will garner international attention, he shrugged and smiled saying now, he takes everything in stride.
"I joked a couple times when I first got out, I was playing with the internet, I saw my photo and my story in the Shanghai Times. So anything's possible!" he said, laughing.
As for the former prosecutor in the Morton case-- District Judge "Ken Anderson is awaiting the decision of a court of inquiry into whether he withheld evidence that would have kept Morton out of prison.
Testimony ended early last month. The inquiry judge will determine if there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime - not whether they're "guilty" or "innocent".
Separately Anderson is being investigated by the State Bar of Texas. If they find he broke the law in the Morton prosecution he could lose his law license.
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