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Author Topic: Mark Norwood Indicted in 1988 Unsolved Murder of Debra Baker of Austin, TX  (Read 13510 times)
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« on: November 10, 2012, 07:46:25 AM »

http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/austin/mark-norwood-indicted-in-second-homicide
Mark Norwood indicted in second homicide
Norwood indicted in 2nd capital murder

November 9, 2012

AUSTIN (KXAN) - Mark Norwood, under indictment on a capital murder charge in the 1986 death of Christine Morton, was indicted Friday in a second killing from the 1980s.

A Travis County grand jury issued a capital murder indictment in the 1988 death of Austin resident Debra Baker, whose death has long gone unsolved.
Norwood's trial in the August 1986 death of Christine Morton will be held in San Angelo. The trial will be held before Judge Burt Carnes in Tom Green County in January, according to sources at Tom Green County District Court.

Morton's husband, Michael, was wrongly convicted and spent 25 years in prison before DNA evidence cleared his name. The DNA found on a bandana recovered near the crime scene was traced back to Norwood, who has a lengthy criminal record.

Baker's daughter, Caitlin Baker, called the wait for a break in her mother' death "excrutiating."

"It is difficult for us to process the reality that Debra might still be with us if evidence in the Morton case had been handled in the manner required by law," she said. "Though we have been frustrated at the length of time it has taken to get to this point, we are grateful to the Austin Police Department and Travis County District Attorney’s office for their hard work on Debra’s case.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said the indictment of Norwood "came after a coordinated investigation" between the Austin Police Department and her office.
 ::snipping2::In her statement, Caitlin Baker thanked authorities and Morton's defense team for their work on the case.

"We are extremely grateful for the work of John Raley and the Innocence Project," she said. "We understand this process may take even longer but at least the end of the legal road is near. We will each hold our own memories of Debra in our hearts as we participate in the difficult process of bringing her killer to justice.”

Baker, a young mother, was killed Jan. 13, 1988, and as recently as January police still need help solving the murder.
 ::snipping2::
Police had suspected that Norwood was linked to the case. But early this year they said they needed more evidence. 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.

Police were hoping to jog someone's memory who knew Norwood or had some work done by him.

"We do have some information that Norwood was working as a carpet layer around this time period, so any business or construction site or anyone else who might have worked in that field or related field that may have known Norwood, at any level, we'd like to hear from you," said APD Violent Crimes Commander Julie O'Brien in late November.

(Read the Bill of Indictiment at link in article)
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2012, 09:34:37 AM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/norwood-indicted-in-1988-austin-homicide/nS3SD/
Norwood indicted in 1988 Austin homicide
November 9, 2012

A man awaiting trial in the death of Christine Morton, whose husband served 25 years in prison for the crime but was later found innocent in a now-famous wrongful conviction case, was charged Friday in the fatal beating of a second woman in her North Austin home more than two decades ago.
A Travis County grand jury indicted Mark Alan Norwood on a charge of capital murder in the death of Debra Masters Baker, who authorities have said was repeatedly hit in the head with a blunt object as she lay in her bed in 1988.
Police have previously described Norwood, who is in jail in Williamson County on a capital murder charge in Morton’s death two years earlier, as a suspect in the Baker case, but he hadn’t been formally charged.
Baker’s family released a statement through their attorney that said “it has been excruciating for all of us who loved Debra to wait for this day. Now, we finally have a face to put with her tragic murder.”
 ::snipping2::
Williamson County officials will prosecute Norwood first in Morton’s death in January before he is brought to trial in Travis County. The Morton case will be heard in San Angelo because of a change of venue due to pretrial publicity.
Authorities arrested Norwood, a 58-year-old former dishwasher, in November 2011 at his Bastrop duplex in connection with Morton’s 1986 death.
That charge against Norwood came after Christine Morton’s husband, Michael Morton, was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years for the crime. In a case that has drawn national attention, DNA evidence exonerated Michael Morton in the fall of 2011.
Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson is facing allegations that he violated state law by hiding several pieces of evidence favorable to Morton.
The family of Baker, whose death came two years after Morton’s, suggested in their statement that the actions of authorities in prosecuting Morton kept them from following clues that might have led them to Norwood.
“It is difficult for us to process the reality that Debra might still be with us if evidence in the Morton case had been handled in the manner required by law,” the statement said.
John Raley, the Houston lawyer who worked on Morton’s exoneration, said Norwood’s indictment Friday served as a reminder that prosecutors should seek justice, not merely a conviction.
 ::snipping2::
Michael Morton has declined to comment on any of the legal proceedings in either case.
Last year, after a six-year court fight with Williamson County officials, Michael Morton’s lawyers won the right to test a bloody bandanna found near the Morton home. Tests conducted last summer confirmed that the cloth contained the victim’s blood and DNA from Norwood — a key finding in Morton’s exoneration.
Authorities then began investigating Norwood in connection with the two cases.
Morton’s lawyers, noting similarities between the Morton and Baker murders, forwarded Norwood’s DNA results to Travis County prosecutors. Subsequent tests confirmed that a hair found in Baker’s bedroom belonged to Norwood, court records show.
Police have said they found no evidence that Baker knew Norwood, negating “an innocent explanation for the presence of (his) pubic hair at the scene of the crime,” according to court filings in the Morton case.
Like Morton, Baker had been hit in the head repeatedly with a blunt object as she lay in her bed, and records show that beginning in 1985, Norwood lived at an address less than two blocks from the Baker home on Dwyce Drive near Woodrow Avenue.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2013, 07:35:17 AM »

It's about time!  As much as I like to see an arrest and conviction in a case, it shouldn't just be anyone.  It MUST be the right person!!

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/morton-prosecutor-faces-court-of-inquiry-this-week/nWDm7/
Morton prosecutor faces court of inquiry this week
February 2, 2013

(A long, detailed and interesting (imo) article)
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2013, 05:21:28 PM »

http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/williamson/ken-anderson-faces-inquiry-into-morton-wrongful-conviction
Anderson faces inquiry into wrongful conviction of Morton
Judge denies impropriety in 25-year-old case

February 4, 2013

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN/AP) - A court of inquiry opened Monday into whether Judge Ken Anderson should face criminal charges in the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton for his wife's murder.

The legal proceeding beginning Monday in Central Texas will determine whether Anderson acted improperly in 1987 when he was a district attorney who prosecuted Morton.

Morton was released in 2011 after new DNA testing showed he didn't kill his wife, Christine Morton, in 1986. Anderson is accused of hiding evidence and has denied any wrongdoing in prosecuting the case.

Tarrant County Judge Louis Sturns will hear evidence before deciding if Anderson acted improperly. Sturns could then decide whether a grand jury should review the case.
More...

Video at Link
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2013, 06:21:23 PM »


http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/norwoods-ex-wife-says-he-wasnt-home-much-when-they/nW2B3/
Norwood judge allows evidence in 1988 murder
March 22, 2013

SAN ANGELO — Update 2:15 p.m.: Judge Burt Carnes has allowed evidence in the 1988 beating death of Debra Masters Baker to be presented in court today. He said the evidence is necessary because it addresses the issue of the identity of the killer in the Christine Morton case.
Update 12:30 p.m. Judge Burt Carnes will decide before the jury returns from lunch whether a prosecutor can introduce evidence to them about the beating death of Debra Masters Baker in her bed in her Austin home in 1988. Mark Norwood is also charged with capital murder in connection with the death of Baker
.
Prosecutor Lisa Tanner said to the judge after the jury recessed for lunch that that investigators found two hairs at the scene of Baker’s death. The first hair was found on a comforter and it matched Norwood’s DNA, Tanner said. The second hair, which investigators have never mentioned publicly before, was found in Baker’s bathroom on a towel and had a genetic mutation that matches Norwood’s hair, Tanner said.
Norwood had no reason to be in Baker’s house, Tanner said. She said a VCR and cash was stolen from Baker’s house but jewelry was left behind.
Jewelry was also left undisturbed at the murder scene of Christine Morton, who was also beaten to death in her bed. Wood chips were left in her hair.
Judge Burt Carnes asked Tanner if wood chips were left in Baker’s hair. Tanner said there were no wood chips in Baker’s hair.
Lawyers for the defense and the prosecution will present arguments before Carnes at 1:30 p.m. about whether or Tanner can present evidence to the jury today from the Baker murder.
Earlier: Mark Norwood’s second ex-wife, Judy Norwood, testified Friday morning that when they lived in Austin in the 1980s, he was rarely home at night. She said he was out laying carpet.
Norwood is on trial in connection with the beating death of Christine Morton in her southwestern Williamson County home in 1986. Morton’s husband, Michael Morton, was falsely convicted of her death and spent 25 years in prison before he was released in 2011 because of new DNA tests.

More...

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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2013, 06:27:07 PM »

http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/williamson/norwoods-ex-wife-takes-the-stand-in-murder-trial
Evidence from Baker case allowed in Norwood trial
Similarities fit criteria of 'signature crime'

March 22, 1023

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.
 ::snipping2::
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.
More...
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2013, 09:06:28 AM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/norwood-judge-allows-testimony-about-separate-capi/nW2fz/
Norwood judge allows testimony about separate capital murder case
Updated: 7:41 p.m. Friday, March 22, 2013 | Posted: 6:54 p.m. Friday, March 22, 2013

SAN ANGELO — The capital murder trial of Mark Norwood changed focus Friday afternoon when the judge allowed testimony about the death of another woman.
Norwood, 58, is being tried in connection with the beating death of Christine Morton in southwestern Williamson County in 1986. He has also been charged with capital murder in the beating death of Debra Masters Baker in Austin in 1988.
Williamson County District Judge Burt Carnes made the decision to allow the testimony about Baker after hearing arguments by a prosecutor and a defense lawyer while the jury took a lunch break Friday.
Witnesses have been testifying since Tuesday in the trial, which was moved to San Angelo because the case received extensive publicity in Williamson County. Morton’s husband, Michael Morton, was wrongfully convicted of her death and spent 25 years in prison before DNA test results exonerated him in 2011.
Those results showed that a blue bandanna found outside the Mortons’ house had DNA from Norwood and blood and a hair from Christine Morton.
Prosecutor Lisa Tanner said Friday that testimony about the death of Baker was necessary to help identify who killed Christine Morton.
Tanner said the death of Baker had so many things in common with the death of Morton that it could be regarded as a signature crime — a crime so similar in pattern or method of operation to previous crimes that it identifies a particular defendant as the perpetrator.
Tanner said that both Baker and Morton had two pillows placed over their heads after they were killed, both women were beaten to death in their beds, both had head injuries, and both had cash taken from their wallets though their jewelry was left undisturbed.

Investigators have previously said that they found a hair on Baker’s comforter that matched Norwood’s DNA. Tanner also said Friday that investigators found another hair on a towel in Baker’s bathroom that matched mutations found in Norwood’s hair.
Defense attorney Ariel Payan said that witnesses should not be allowed to testify about Baker’s death because there were not enough similarities to Christine Morton’s death.
Payan said that Baker was killed with a metal object and Morton was killed with a wooden object. He also said that Baker was found naked on top of her bed and Morton was found underneath a comforter with a nightgown on. DNA was found outside in connection with the Morton case but was found inside in the Baker case, he said.
Baker’s mother, Gertrude Masters, told jurors that she found her daughter’s body at Baker’s house on Dwyce Drive in North Austin on Jan. 13, 1988. Masters, who is in her 80s and uses a wheelchair, said her daughter’s VCR had been stolen.
Lisa Conn, one of Baker’s siblings, then testified that the killer had left two diamond rings and a diamond necklace undisturbed.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2013, 09:31:09 AM »

http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/williamson/dna-expert-testifies-that-sample-found-on-bandana-matched-norwoods
DNA expert testifies that sample found on bandana matched Norwood's
Odds of it not being Norwood's: 663 trillion to 1

Updated: Friday, 22 Mar 2013, 11:01 AM CDT
Published : Thursday, 21 Mar 2013, 12:57 PM CDT

SAN ANGELO, Texas (KXAN) - The chances that a DNA sample found on the bandana recovered near the scene of Christine Morton's murder in 1986 belonged to someone other than Mark Norwood are one in nearly 663 trillion, a forensic expert testified on Thursday.

The expert, Huma Nasir, told jurors on the fourth day of Norwood's murder trial that two DNA samples were found on the bandana that later led to the exoneration of Michael Morton in the deadly beating of his wife. The smaller sample matched Christine Morton's DNA and the larger sample in all likelihood was from Norwood.

Given that fewer than 7 billion people live on earth, chances that it had come from someone else is all but impossible, the seven-woman, five-man jury was told.
 ::snipping2::
Also, Michael Morton was recalled to the witness stand to make clear that a bandana found in near Christine's body had belong to her sister and was not connected to the bandana found near the crime scene with the crucial DNA evidence.

The final piece of testimony heard on Thursday came in the form of a video-taped deposition with Sonny Wann.

Wann is the man who purchased a gun from Mark Norwood in 1986 that would eventually turn out to be the same gun stolen from Michael
Morton's closet.

 ::snipping2::
Meanwhile, prosecutors in the case filed a five-page document they said connects the 58-year-old Norwood to 17 other crimes dating back to 1980. Many of the offenses, which took place in the Austin area, Tennessee and California, were property crimes.

But two of them involved killings, including the 1988 beating death of Debra Baker of Austin. In November, Norwood was indicted on a capital murder charge in the case. Prosecutors also connected him to the July 1980 death of a Tennessee man named David Fox. No details were provided.
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 02:39:34 PM »

I believe this law is very important.  It's quite possible Debra Baker could be alive today if prosecutors in the Christine Morton murder case weren't so focused on Michael Morton and held back information from the defense.  Mark Norwood is currently on trial for the beating death of Christine Morton, and has been charged with capitol murder of Debra Baker. 

http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/texas_lege/senate-passes-michael-morton-law
Senate committee passes "Michael Morton Law"
Proposal changes handling of evidence

Posted March 26, 2013, Updated March 27, 2013

 ::snipping2::
The bill approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday would require "open file discovery" of material that might help defend a person accused of a crime.

Viewers of TV shows like Law & Order have heard of "Brady material," which refers to the Supreme Court case that set general guidelines for handling exculpatory evidence.

Houston Democratic Sen. Rodney Ellis says his bill would help ensure fair trials. It would require prosecutors to turn over police reports, witness lists, recorded statements. It would make exceptions for safety issues.

The bill is named for Michael Morton, who served 25 years in prison on false charges of killing his wife.
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 11:45:03 PM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/norwood-given-life-in-prison-for-morton-slaying/nW55B/
Norwood given life in prison for Morton slaying
March 27, 2013
SAN ANGELO — A brutal murder case that has captured national attention because of its dramatic twists and turns is over. Twenty-six years after being wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder, Michael Morton reacted to a jury’s finding Wednesday afternoon that another man is guilty of the crime by briefly putting his hand over his heart.
The San Angelo jury took about three and a half hours to convict 58-year-old Mark Norwood, who received a life sentence for the 1986 killing of Christine Morton in Williamson County. Norwood stood quietly Wednesday as the verdict was read and would not speak to reporters as deputies rolled his wheelchair to a patrol car waiting to take him back to Williamson County.
He will be eligible for parole after 15 years because of the law in effect in 1986.
Michael Morton spent 25 years in jail before he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011, but he has said he is not bitter about the process. His case has prompted an unprecedented court of inquiry to assess the actions of former Williamson County prosecutor Ken Anderson during his initial trial, galvanized debate over Texas’ rules about the sharing of case files before trials and spurred state legislators this session to support a proposal that seeks to hold prosecutors more accountable for misconduct.
Outside the courthouse Wednesday, Morton said hearing the verdict was “a mixed bag. It’s not a celebration. It’s not a happy day.”
 ::snipping2::
Connie Hoff, Mark Norwood’s sister, said the state had “railroaded” her brother because prosecutors had introduced evidence from another murder case into the trial.
Norwood also has been charged with capital murder in the beating death of Debra Baker, who was killed in her Austin home in 1988. His trial date has not yet been set for that charge.
Judge Burt Carnes allowed testimony about the Baker case during Norwood’s trial because he agreed with prosecutor Lisa Tanner that evidence in Baker’s and Christine Morton’s deaths was so similar: Both women were killed by blows to their heads as they slept.

Hoff said that Mark Norwood was “100 percent plus” innocent and was now beginning to go through what Michael Morton had gone through when he was wrongfully convicted in 1987.
“This is history repeating itself,” Hoff said.
Lisa Conn, Baker’s sister, was also at the trial and hugged Tanner after the verdict.
Tanner said after the conviction that she had a legal right to introduce the Baker case into the Norwood trial. Lab analysts testified during the Norwood trial that two pubic hairs found in Baker’s house are linked to Norwood based on DNA.
Defense lawyer Russell Hunt said he will be filing an appeal of Norwood’s case as early as next week.
Ultimately, the jury wasn’t swayed by Norwood’s defense that the state had such weak evidence in the Morton case that they had to introduce the Baker case and that DNA evidence found near the Morton home could have been contaminated as it was collected.
Hunt also argued that Louis “Sonny” Wann of Nashville lied in a videotaped deposition when Wann said that a gun he turned over to investigators in 2011 had been sold to him by Norwood. Authorities said the gun had been stolen from the Mortons’ southwestern Williamson County house the day Christine Morton died on Aug. 13, 1986. Wann said that Norwood had sold it to him when they were both working on a construction job for Travis County Judge Guy Herman in Austin.
Key to the prosecution’s case was the same piece of evidence that led to the overturning of Michael Morton’s prior conviction: a bloody bandanna found by Morton’s brother-in-law, John Kirkpatrick, behind the Mortons’ house. The bandanna had Norwood’s DNA on it, as well as small bloodstains from Christine Morton and a hair belonging to her.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2013, 07:28:40 PM »

http://www.kvue.com/news/Norwood-attorneys-appeal-capital-murder-case-201528691.html
Norwood attorneys' appeal capital murder conviction
April 4, 2012

SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Attorneys for Mark Norwood have officially asked for  a new trial.

Last week, Norwood was convicted of capital murder for the 1986 slaying of Christine Morton. Norwood is also charged with the murder of Debra Baker here in Austin.
The jury was allowed to hear evidence about the Baker case. Norwood's attorney says that prejudiced the jury against him.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2013, 12:22:46 PM »

http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2013/04/will-judge-ken-andersons-arrest-help-or-hurt-proposed-michael-morton-act-or-timothy-cole-commission.html/
Will Judge Ken Anderson’s arrest help or hurt proposed Michael Morton Act or Timothy Cole Commission?
By Rodger Jones/Editorial Writer
rmjones@dallasnews.com
1:34 pm on April 22, 2013
 
The arrest of State District Judge Ken Anderson for playing hide-the-evidence in Michael Morton’s murder case was ordered by a judge clearly outraged and repulsed by Anderson’s behavior.

Wrote Judge Louis Sturns, presiding over a special court of inquiry in the case (hat tip to Grits for posting the transcript):

“This court cannot think of a more intentionally harmful act than a prosecutor’s conscious choice to hide mitigating evidence so as to create an uneven playing field for a defendant facing a murder charge and life sentence.”
Anderson was DA in Williamson County and prosecuted Morton for his wife’s beating murder, getting him a life sentence. Sturns essentially called Anderson a liar for how he concealed evidence — and a slimy, stubborn liar at that. As for objections that the statutes of limitations could save Anderson’s hide on this, Sturns seemed to say, “Maybe, but Anderson has to at least be called out for his despicable behavior.” Amen.

However that ends up for Anderson, he is exposed for what he is — a guy who wanted an expedient conviction, never mind that he was doing violence to constitutional rights and letting the real killer get away.

One of the more nauseating chapters revealed by the court of inquiry involved Anderson’s conniving to come up with a fallback plan if Morton ever found out that his son saw a stranger beat his mom to death. The 3-year-old told grandma that a “monster hurt mommy,” but Anderson kept that from the defense.

 
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« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2013, 07:14:50 PM »

http://www.statesman.com/ap/ap/crime/family-fears-inmate-wont-be-tried-for-2nd-murder/nY6Mz/
Family fears inmate won't be tried for 2nd murder
July 28, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — Relatives of a Texas woman beaten to death in her bed 25 years ago long feared her killer never would be caught. Now, they worry he'll never go to trial for her slaying.
Debra Masters Baker's husband, sister, son and daughter gathered around a kitchen table recently for their first public interview since a man already serving a life term for a high-profile murder was charged last November with Baker's death.
Sometimes breaking into tears, they discussed their quest for justice since the 34-year-old property manager — remembered for her infectious laugh and boundless generosity — was bludgeoned to death before dawn on Jan. 13, 1988, in her Austin home. The family remains haunted by thoughts that if authorities hadn't wrongfully pursued and convicted an innocent man in an eerily similar case 17 months earlier, the real killer never would have been free to take another life.
"We know she didn't have to die, that if (prosecutors) had done their job right, they would have looked for the right murderer and hopefully she would have still been alive," Baker's sister, Lisa Conn, said during the nearly three-hour interview with The Associated Press.
Baker's daughter, Caitlin, said it was like a punch in the stomach when the district attorney told her family there was a possibility Mark Allan Norwood, eligible for parole in 15 years in the other case, wouldn't be tried in her mother's death. Prosecutors have since insisted they are still pushing for a trial.
 
Norwood, 59, a former dishwasher and construction worker, was convicted in March of killing Christine Morton on Aug. 13, 1986, in her home, about 12 miles from where Baker lived.
Morton's husband Michael was originally convicted of the crime and spent nearly 25 years in prison. DNA evidence helped exonerate him in 2011, and the case gained national attention when the district attorney who prosecuted it was indicted on charges he hid evidence from the defense that could have helped prove Morton's innocence.
Hairs on a comforter and bathroom towel in Baker's home were linked to Norwood, leading to his indictment in that case as well.
Dayna Blazey, a Travis County assistant district attorney and lead prosecutor in the Baker case, said all parties are waiting for the completion of the transcript from Norwood's first murder trial before they can proceed. She said it's not unusual for the process to take months, adding that a long prison term against a suspect in one case doesn't "automatically preclude" prosecutors from charging him in another.

 
Patrick Metze, director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Texas Tech University, said "at some point, the question becomes, 'How many life sentences does this person really need?'" However, he predicted prosecutors wouldn't turn back after going this far against Norwood: "You can take it to the bank."
But Baker's brother Jesse, who was 7 at the time of her slaying, said family members remain troubled by their meeting last year with Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg that led them to believe Norwood might not be tried in her death.
"I can see where (Lehmberg's) coming from, I can," said Jesse Baker, now 33. "She has a budget and she has to set priorities. But it just tears you up, and it makes it clear that it's not about justice."
 
Caitlin Baker, now 29, was three days shy of her fourth birthday when her mother was killed. She spent years hounding cold case investigators for new information. At one point, she recalls a detective be quoted as saying: "I wish I had a crystal ball or magic wand, but we don't have it."
But, once Norwood emerged as a suspect, investigators found striking similarities between the Baker and Morton killings.
The two women were both mothers, and had long brown hair. Both had been beaten with blunt objects while alone in their waterbeds on the 13th of the month. Each time, the killer likely entered through an unlocked sliding door and stole little except cash and one other major item.
In Morton's case it was a handgun; in Baker's, it was a VCR with "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" inside.
Although they originally believed Baker was killed in a 10-minute struggle, investigators since have concluded she likely was sleeping and never regained consciousness. There was also no evidence of sexual assault.

"Getting these answers, finally, means the world. It means so much more than a conviction," Jesse Baker said.
Conn said she was at her sister's home until nearly midnight the night of the slaying and remembers hearing something in the bedroom closet.
"I really, honestly, believe he was in the house the whole time," said Conn, now 53. "He was just waiting for us to leave and for her to go to bed."
Norwood lived just a few hundred yards away from Baker. He had previously been arrested for burglary in their neighborhood after he tried to sell stolen items at a garage sale, but wasn't sent to jail for it until three months after Baker was killed.
Instead, investigators focused on Baker's husband Phillip, then 39. The couple had married in 1977, but he came out as gay and moved out around late 1984. They remained friends, however, and the kids were staying with him the night of the slaying.
"I was their guy for about six weeks," said Phillip Baker, now 64, who even took a lie-detector test.
 

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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2013, 08:54:00 AM »

I know it will cost lots of money to take this POS to court again.
However, as frugal as I try to be, I would still want my mother's case tried in a court of law.
Again, where are the victim's rights?
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2013, 09:51:23 AM »

Now we're wondering if Mark Norwood murdered not only Christine Morton (Who's husband Michael was wrongfully convicted for her murder and did 25 years) and will go to trial in the murder of Debra Baker, but may also have murdered Natalie Antonelli?  Ken Anderson, the prosecutor at the trial of Michael Morton is being investigated and has been in court on civil charges just this week for withholding information in the murder case of Christine Morton.  He was "convinced" Michael Morton was guilty and knew about the information held back and that it could be used by the defense. Debra Baker is believed to have been  murdered buyMark Norwood after Christine Morton, and her family feels if Ken Anderson had put the true murderer in prison instead of having tunnel vision and going after Michael Morton, she might still be alive.  And now we have a third woman that may be another of Mark Norwood's victims.  It's not enough to make an arrest and conviction in a murder.  It has to be the murderer and not someone they can stick the crime on. 

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/court-throws-out-cold-case-murder-conviction/nZhMB/
Court throws out cold-case murder conviction
August 30, 2013

A state appeals court Friday ordered a new trial for Dennis Davis, convicted in 2011 for the cold-case murder of Natalie Antonetti, who was beaten in her South Austin apartment in 1985.
The 3rd Court of Appeals threw out Davis’ murder conviction and 36-year prison sentence, ruling that he was not given adequate legal representation during his trial.

The court faulted defense lawyer Wade Russell for failing to introduce evidence pointing to another man as the likely killer – a man identified by a neighbor as peeking through a window while holding a club or small bat outside Antonetti’s apartment complex on the morning of her assault.
Antonetti, 38, was hit at least five times in the head with a blunt object, possibly with a club or heavy stick, about 5:15 a.m. as she slept on the couch of her South Austin apartment in October 1985. She slipped into a coma and died 18 days later.
Had they heard the evidence, there is a “reasonable probability that the jury would have come to a different verdict,” the court ruled.
No physical evidence or witnesses directly tied Davis to the crime.
On the day she was killed, Antonetti got home about 2:30 a.m. and went for a walk by the apartment complex pool, returning after 10 minutes. Her roommate, sleeping upstairs, was awakened by thumping sounds about 5:15 a.m. and found Antonetti near the couch, dazed and bleeding from her head.

Lacking fingerprints, witnesses or a murder weapon, the Antonetti case languished until a 2007 call to the homicide tip line from Becky Davis, Dennis Davis’ wife, who suggested that detectives focus on her husband.

Dennis Davis, she said, raised her suspicions when he told her in 1991 that he had “sinned against man and God.”
A new group of investigators tracked down several new witnesses, including Gelinda Mudgett, a former girlfriend who testified that Davis told her in 1988 that he had killed Antonetti. She said that she didn’t come forward because she feared Davis. Defense lawyers characterized her as a bitter ex-girlfriend out for revenge.
Prosecutors also called Amparo Garcia-Crow, the woman Davis had said he was with the night Antonetti was killed. But Garcia-Crow testified that they were not together that night.
Arguing that Davis killed Antonetti because he was jealous of her new love interest, prosecutors also produced a witness who recalled seeing Davis and Antonetti arguing in a nightclub on the night of the slaying or a day earlier.
Becky Davis also testified, but on her husband’s behalf, saying she was angry about their pending divorce when she called police in 2007. The Davises later reconciled.
Becky Davis said that her husband never confessed to killing Antonetti, and she never asked him to explain what he meant by sinning “against man and God.” Becky Davis testified that at the time he said the phrase, she believed he was talking about not visiting his mother in the hospital.
Last February, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office indicated that its lawyers would conduct an internal review of the evidence in the Antonetti case because of the striking similarities to two other murders from the late 1980s.
Christine Morton, 31, was killed by eight blows to the head as she lay in bed at her southwestern Williamson County home in August 1986, probably shortly after her husband, Michael, left for work at his usual time, 5:30 a.m. Investigators found wood chips from a blunt weapon, which was never recovered, embedded in her hair.
Debra Masters Baker, 34, was beaten to death in bed at her North Austin home in January 1988 with six blows to the head, also with a blunt object that was not recovered. Baker, who was home alone, was last seen by relatives around midnight.
The three slayings share numerous similarities. All three victims were Anglo brunettes in their 30s who were killed on the 13th of the month.
Mark Alan Norwood, a former carpet installer who had lived within two blocks of Baker, was found guilty of Christine Morton’s murder and has been charged with murdering Baker
.
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« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2013, 10:01:26 AM »

http://www.texastribune.org/2013/08/30/new-doubts-arise-cold-case-was-thought-solved/
Appeals Court Orders New Trial for Dennis Davis
August 30, 2013

Updated, Aug. 30, 2013:

A Texas appeals court on Friday ordered a new trial for Dennis Davis, who is serving 36 years in prison for the 1985 murder of Natalie Antonetti of Austin.

In an opinion, the 3rd Court of Appeals agreed with Davis' assertion that his trial counsel was ineffective and did not present witness testimony relevant to the case, among other claims. Davis said his counsel did not offer evidence of a neighbor who claims he saw another person — not Davis — holding a club or small bat at Antonetti's home the morning she was bludgeoned to death.

"Because we conclude that Davis has established that his counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and prejudiced his defense, we will reverse the trial court's judgment and remand this cause for a new trial," according to Friday's court opinion.

Original story:

For 26 years, the gruesome beating death of Natalie Antonetti — a carefree spirit and loving mother — remained a mystery. Austin police couldn’t find anyone with a motive to hurt the 38-year-old Cuba native who thrived on the city’s live music scene and often invited friends over for haircuts and home-cooked meals.

Last year, Travis County prosecutors convicted Dennis Davis of the murder after chasing down tips from his estranged wife and a string of ex-girlfriends. A jury agreed with prosecutors that Davis had been abusive and jealous and flew into a rage and bashed Antonetti’s head in with a bat as she slept on her couch on Oct. 13, 1985.

But the case against Davis, now 62, was based largely on the testimony of people recounting events more than two decades old. Less than a year after Davis was sentenced to 36 years in prison, Travis County prosecutors are re-examining the case, searching for DNA that might answer new questions about whether another man — one whose DNA has been connected to two eerily similar killings — could be linked to Antonetti’s murder.
Much more... (Important read & background)
Just months after Davis began his sentence, Michael Morton was exonerated in the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine Morton. He had served 25 years of a life sentence. New DNA evidence showed that another man, Mark Norwood, was linked to the crime. Norwood’s DNA was also found at the scene of the unsolved 1988 murder of Debra Masters Baker.

Norwood, a 57-year-old Bastrop dishwasher, faces trial in ChristineMorton’s murder and remains a suspect in the Baker murder. His lawyer, Russell Hunt Jr., has said Norwood has denies killing anyone.

Just like Antonetti, the other two women were bludgeoned in the head as they slept. The assailant entered their homes in the early morning hours through unlocked doors. Little or nothing was stolen, and none of the women were sexually assaulted. The three women were all brunettes in their 30s. And each of the murders occurred on the 13th day of the month.

The women also lived in close proximity to Norwood, who worked as a handyman and carpet installer in the 1980s. Norwood lived about 12 miles from Morton, a few blocks from Baker and about nine miles from Antonetti.

After reading about the striking similarities in a Texas Tribune report, Pryor said the district attorney’s office decided to re-examine the evidence in the Antonetti case. Items from the crime scene, including clothes and furniture coverings, will be examined to determine if enough DNA exists to test the biological material and compare it to Norwood’s DNA.


“In any murder case you’re going to get some weird coincidences,” Pryor said. “DNA is where we should put the weight if we have it and not coincidences.”

McDonald said he hopes that if investigators find DNA, they also compare it to Odem. Meanwhile, he is preparing to file an appeal of Davis’ conviction arguing that there was too little evidence to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Davis said he is doing his own legal research, spending hours each day in the prison law library and learning from other inmates who have spent years poring over stacks of law books. And, he’s praying.
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« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2013, 05:48:03 PM »

http://www.kxan.com/news/williamson/judge-anderson-resigns-amid-controversy
Judge Anderson resigns amid controversy
One-time prosecutor facing being disbarred

September 24, 2013

 
Anderson, who long nurtured a tough law-and-order reputation, is facing being disbarred over his handling of the Michael Morton case in the 1980s. As a prosecutor, Anderson helped convicted Morton of killing his wife in 1986, but that conviction was overturned with the emergence of DNA evidence in October 2011.

At issue is whether Anderson knowingly withheld evidence he was duty bound to give to Morton's lawyers that would have aided in the defense.

A trial date is set for next week in the complaint from the State Bar of Texas that could end with Anderson's license to practice law being revoked over the Morton matter. That hearing remains scheduled regardless of Anderson's resignation.

Anderson has long contended that he acted properly in the Morton case.

Morton spent some 25 years in prison in the death of his wife, Christine. He insisted he was innocent throughout his incarceration.

A bandana found near the Morton home in Williamson County finally was tested for DNA evidence over the objection of prosecutors pointing to another suspect. That suspect, Mark Alan Norwood, has since been indicted on a capital murder charge in the killing.

Norwood is also indicted in a second killing from the 1980s. Debra Baker was killed Jan. 13, 1988, well after Michael Morton had been falsely convicted.

Present Williamson County DA Jana Duty said Anderson's resignation from the 277th State District Court will bring some "stability and continuity" to the court.

"There has been a lot of upheaval which unfortunately, has been a big distraction for my prosecutors in the 277th," she said. "It's time to focus on getting our felony cases resolved without any more distractions"
 
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« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2013, 06:27:52 PM »

http://www.wfaa.com/news/texas-news/225080722.html
Ken Anderson, prosecutor of wrongfully convicted Michael Morton, resigns
September 24, 2013

AUSTIN -- Williamson County state district Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton in 1987, submitted a letter to Gov. Rick Perry on Monday resigning his position effective immediately.
Anderson is facing both civil and criminal court proceedings for his role in prosecuting Morton for the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine Morton. Attorneys for Morton allege that Anderson withheld critical evidence that pointed to Morton's innocence and that he lied to the judge about the existence of that evidence. Morton was sentenced to life in prison and spent nearly 25 years behind bars before DNA testing revealed that he was innocent and connected another man to his wife's killing. He was released from prison in 2011.
 
Anderson was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry in 2002 and the State Bar of Texas named him “Prosecutor of the Year” in 1995. Perry responded to Anderson on Monday with a letter accepting the resignation and thanking the longtime prosecutor and judge for his service.
The State Bar filed a disciplinary case against Anderson last year, and the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday in Williamson County. Anderson could be disbarred if he is found to have violated professional rules of conduct in securing Morton's wrongful conviction.
Anderson is also facing criminal charges after Tarrant County state district Judge Louis Sturns, following a court of inquiry in February, charged the former prosecutor with tampering with government records (a misdemeanor), tampering with physical evidence (a felony) and failing to comply with a judge's order to turn over such evidence, for which he could be held in “contempt of court.” 
Anderson has said that he regrets the errors of the justice system in Morton’s case. But he has maintained that he committed no wrongdoing in the prosecution.
During their investigation of Morton's case, Raley, of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, along with Barry Scheck and Nina Morrison of the New York-based Innocence Project, discovered evidence that they allege Anderson deliberately withheld from defense lawyers and from the judge in the case.
Among the items was a transcript of a phone call in which Morton’s mother-in-law recounted to police a conversation with her 3-year-old grandson, who said he saw a “monster” beat his mother to death. He said Morton, his father, was not at home when the beating happened. They also found reports from neighbors who told police that they saw a man in a green van park near the Mortons' home and walk into the nearby woods several times before the crime. 
The State Bar conducted a 10-month investigation after a grievance was filed against Anderson in the case. The State Bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline wrote in its court filing that Anderson knew of the evidence and withheld it. The filing also alleged that Anderson made a false statement to the court when he told the judge he had no evidence that could be favorable to Morton’s claims of innocence.
His conduct, the State Bar commission wrote, violated five of the state’s Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.
 
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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2014, 04:55:36 PM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/mark-norwood-pleads-not-guilty-in-second-capital-m/nchdB/
Mark Norwood pleads not guilty in second capital murder case
January 9, 2013


Debra Baker

Mark Norwood has pleaded not guilty to capital murder in the 1988 death of Debra Masters Baker, Travis County officials said Thursday.
The plea comes less than a year after the former carpet layer and construction worker was convicted in March for the 1986 killing of Christine Morton in southwestern Williamson County. Morton’s husband, Michael Morton, was wrongfully convicted in his wife’s death and spent 25 years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011.
Norwood, 59, has been sentenced to life in prison but will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years because of laws that were in effect when the crime took place.
Court officials said the state will now wait for a response to Norwood’s appeal in the Williamson case before setting a trial date in Travis. In the meantime, the state will be compiling an inventory of evidence presented in Norwood’s first murder trial to be handed over to the defense.
Norwood was transferred from the state prison in Rusk, in East Texas, to appear in court. He is scheduled for another hearing March 28.
More...


Mark Alan Norwood
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2014, 07:10:09 PM »

http://kxan.com/2014/07/03/morton-memoir-details-injustice-new-life/
Morton memoir details injustice, new life
July 3, 2014

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Michael Morton’s life among the trees on an East Texas lake is a little slice of Heaven now, but his new memoir, ‘Getting Life,’ details a 25-year Hell in heartbreaking detail.

“I think I wrote it for a couple of reasons, one to show people what I went through,” Morton said. “And also, it’s kind of I can like hand it to my son and it’s like “you were in this, but you didn’t know it.”

Morton’s son, Eric, was only three years old when his mother was killed and his father wrongfully convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison. Eventually, his mother’s sister adopted Eric, who decided as a teenager, he no longer wanted a relationship with his father, a moment Morton details in his new memoir.
 
His son is a central theme in the book, in which Morton talks in more detail about his relationship with his wife, Christine, and their time as a family with Eric. He also shares a great deal about his time in prison and the ups and downs of his legal appeals over the years.

Michael Morton sat down with KXAN's Shannon Wolfson. You can watch her full inter view above.
Michael Morton sat down with KXAN’s Shannon Wolfson. You can watch her full inter view above.
In 1987, a jury convicted Morton of beating his wife to death. It took almost a quarter century to prove prosecutors hid evidence that could have cast doubt on Morton’s guilt and then years later, refused to test a piece of evidence that turned out to be the smoking gun in the case against the real killer– Mark Norwood– a man police say went on to kill another woman after Morton’s conviction.

Norwood was convicted of Christine Morton’s murder in 2013 and is currently awaiting trial for the murder of Debra Masters Baker, in Austin.

Ken Anderson, the District Attorney who prosecuted Morton, was found guilty of withholding evidence. He lost his law license, resigned his position as a state District Judge in Williamson County and spent five days in jail for his part in Morton’s wrongful conviction.

John Bradley, the former Williamson County District Attorney who refused, for seven years, to allow the additional DNA testing that ultimately set Morton free, lost his bid for re-election.

Those are the facts people who follow his story have come to know, but Morton says his revelations about life after his exoneration may be what surprises many readers.

“I like the epilogue best. Everybody knows the tragedy and the dark spots and the low valleys and all that stuff, but I like the epilogue best because it talks about my new life, my wife, living here,” Morton said as he looked around at his new home on the lake.

In March 2013, Morton married Cynthia Chessman, a woman he met at church shortly after his release from prison. The two recently moved in to the home on the lake in a private, gated community in East Texas, where Morton says he wrote a lot of his new book, with the help of journals he kept over the years.

“There’s nothing better in the morning than coming out on this deck and holding Cynthia’s hand and drinking a cup of coffee and watching all the critters start coming awake.

He has also re-connected with his son and since his release, has twice become a grandfather.
 
‘Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace’ will be released July 8, 2014, but is currently available for pre-order.

Timeline and video in article.
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