SAN ANGELO, Texas (KXAN) - The judge presiding over the Mark Norwood murder trial on Friday ruled that evidence from a second killing can be presented because of the similarities of both cases.
The ruling by state District Judge Burt Carnes represented a victory for prosecutors trying to prove that Norwood savagely beat Christine Morton to death more than 26 years ago in her Williamson County home.
Carnes said the similarities between Morton's murder and the Debra Baker murder fit the criteria of a "signature crime," thus making evidence from Baker's murder admissible into the current trial.
Baker, a young mother, was found beaten to death on Jan. 13, 1988, in her Austin home. Norwood lived in Baker's north-central Austin neighborhood at the time and worked as a carpet layer. Norwood was arrested for two home break-ins and a car burglary a year before Baker's death.
In both the Morton and Baker cases, the victims were killed with a blunt object and their heads were covered with pillows. DNA matching Norwood's profile was found at both crime scenes.
Norwood has been indicted on a capital murder charge in Baker's death.
Baker's mother and sister both testified Friday about Debra's murder.
Earlier on Friday, the ex-wife of Mark Norwood took the witness stand Friday morning and talked about her life with the man now on trial.
Judy Norwood, who ran away from home as a teenager to be with the carpet layer and construction worker, told jurors that her married life was marked by financial uncertainty unspoken questions about her husband's whereabouts.
Mark Norwood, who was 26 when married the 15-year-old Judy, worked what appeared to be odd work hours that often kept him away from home overnight. Early on, she told jurors, she came to understand that she was not to question her husband about where he had gone and what he had done.
Judy Norwood said that she worked several jobs during that period.
She also said that on at least one occasion, Mark Norwood had left their 4-year-old son alone in the family's apartment off Justin Lane, which connect Burnet Road with North Lamar Boulevard near its intersection with Airport Boulevard.
Norwood was charged with Morton's beating death after a bandana with DNA that matched a sample of his that was taken while he was in a California prison. That DNA evidence led to the exoneration of Michael Morton, who had spent 25 behind bars after being wrongfully convicted of killing his wife.
Jurors on Friday were also shown a 1980s-era photo of Norwood with a red bandana. The point was to show his tendency to have such an item as part of his wardrobe at the time.
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
As the Austin area prepares itself for an impending winter storm on Friday, Dec. 6, many schools have already announced delays.
With freezing temperatures pushing through the region, heating systems will likely be working overtime, which can bring rising energy bills.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.