How DNA led to arrest in Texas wrongful conviction case

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Williamson County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Foster announced outside the sheriff’s office Wednesday afternoon that investigators had made an arrest in connection with the 1986 slaying of Christine Morton, who was beaten to death in her home near Austin, Texas.

Her husband, Michael Morton, was convicted of her murder but was recently exonerated after serving 25 years of a life sentence. Foster spoke briefly with The Times about the case.


What can you tell us about the arrest today?

Williamson County officials have arrested Mark Alan Norwood for the murder of Christine Morton.

What evidence was the arrest based on? Was it related to the blue bandanna found near the murder scene that helped exonerate Michael Morton after it was recently tested for DNA?

The blue bandanna turned over to investigators by John Kirkpatrick, Christine Morton’s brother, on Aug. 14, 1986, was tested and showed both Christine Morton’s hair and DNA as well as another DNA profile which investigators entered into a nationwide law enforcement index. This search revealed a match. The match belonged to Mark Alan Norwood.

Did investigators speak with Norwood, 57, before his arrest?

On Aug. 26, 2011 detectives spoke with Norwood, who told them he lived in Austin in 1986 and worked as a carpet layer. Norwood provided no innocent explanation for why his DNA would be on
the bandanna with the blood and hair of Christine Morton.

Did Norwood say anything during his arrest?


Records show Christine Morton’s credit card was used and a check belonging to her was cashed by a female suspect in the days after her murder--are you still searching for additional suspects?

The investigation is ongoing, but I cannot discuss particular suspects.

Why is the investigation ongoing?

You can’t deny in this case that an innocent person has gone to jail. At the same time, we are not wanting history to repeat itself; that is why our investigation is ongoing and it’s going to be very thorough and methodical. This is a new time in law enforcement compared to 26 years ago. No
one working on this case was here when they investigated Mr. Morton.


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--Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Oklahoma City