Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Justice Is Not About Winning

The Austin American Statesman had a piece yesterday about a man convicted of murdering his wife, who served 25 years in prison before DNA testing revealed his innocence. He was set free in a Williamson County courtroom Tuesday. In the story was this bit I thought was worth noting:

Morton’s lawyers first asked to test the bandanna in 2006. Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley opposed the testing, and District Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield agreed to deny the tests.

An appeals court, however, ordered the tests to be performed, noting that a the results could go a long way toward corroborating Morton’s key defense —- that an intruder killed his wife by entering and exiting the property through a densely wooded area behind the house.

After the results came back showing the DNA of John Doe, a man with felony convictions and charges in four states, Stubblefield recused himself from the case. He was replaced by District Judge Sid Harle of San Antonio.

After Monday’s hearing, defense lawyer John Raley said that if there is one moral to take from the Morton story, it’s this: “You should never oppose DNA testing. It can only reveal the truth.”

One very interesting tidbit is the "John Doe" suspect listed in court papers is believed to be a serial killer who was linked to another Austin murder as well as other crimes in other areas. It will be very interesting to hear the whole story when they run that part down.

According to the story Michael Morton was 45th Texas inmate to be exonerated due to DNA evidence. What I find troubling is that sometimes it seems like court cases are more about winning than they are about justice. If your prosecution theory is sound, then DNA testing shouldn't really worry the prosecutor. In this case, the prosecution's theory seemed to run counter to the truth.

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