Texas’ top criminal court declared Michael Morton an innocent man Wednesday, wiping out his 1987 conviction and life sentence for the murder of his wife, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The unanimous ruling, which had been anticipated because Morton’s innocence claim was supported by District Attorney John Bradley, came unexpectedly fast — only eight days after Morton was freed from prison after recent DNA tests indicated that another man killed his wife.
Morton is qualified for $80,000 in compensation for each year he was wrongly imprisoned, or about $2 million, with another $2 million annuity that would earn 5 percent interest and pay out monthly. But the rapid ruling may jeopardize Morton’s plans to pursue evidence supporting allegations that then-prosecutor Ken Anderson, now a district judge, improperly suppressed pretrial evidence that pointed to Morton’s innocence. His cause was championed by the Innocence Project of New York and John Raley, a Houston civil lawyer who has represented Morton for free since 2005.