In 1987 Michael Morton murdered his wife Chris in front of their young child, and was jailed for 25 years. Except that he didn’t do it. This disturbing story was the subject of an excellent CNN Film shown this week on national television, called “An Unreal Dream”.
• In Georgetown, Texas the wife was bludgeoned to death in her bed and in front of her three-year-old child after Michael had gone to work.
• A blood-stained bandana was found in the backyard.
• The day before was Michael’s birthday and the family went out to eat. Later they agreed to have sex, but Chris fell asleep before this happened. Michael was disappointed, and when he went to work next day he left a note for Chris explaining this.
• Michael was charged with murder and convicted by jury. Because he left the disappointment note. Because the autopsy expert said the murder took place at 1 am, based on stomach contents. Because evidence was withheld. Because he showed little emotion. Because no other murderer candidate was presented. He was sent to prison.
• Many years later, a group called “The Innocence Project” raised the issue of the bandana, and requested the attorney-general for Texas to have a DNA test done. The request was refused for some years, partly because the attorney-general said it “would muddy the waters”.
• While in prison, Michael reached the bottom when his son, now grown, renounced his father. Michael turned to God, and asked Him for help. A couple weeks passed. One evening as he turned in to bed, he was embraced by a “light”. He knew it was God. A warm loving feeling enveloped him. It changed his life.
• Things took on a different perspective. He was better able to deal with difficulties. He became a giver, sometimes returning from the commissary with ice cream for other inmates.
• Meanwhile permission was finally obtained to DNE-test the bloody bandana. When compared with the bank of criminal DNA samples, it gave a direct hit. Mark Norwood who had been a felon in three different states was captured and convicted. Years ago, a young woman had been murdered two blocks from Norwood’s home, and no suspect was ever found…..until now.
• When Michael was released, he gave to other prisoners everything he owned in prison.
• The evidence that was withheld from the trial was a statement made by the young son during his mother’s murder: “The monster was beating mommy with his red hands”. And when asked where his daddy was, he said “Daddy wasn’t there”.
• The son and his father have reconciled. Michael is now a proud grandpa.
• After his release, Michael said “I understand suffering and I understand unfairness. I have discovered that God exists, that He is wise, and that He loves me. If you internalize these, then what’s the problem?”
If Jesus came back and walked among us, I think he would tell redemption stories like this. About suffering and injustice. About a man humbly turning to God when the chips were down. About experiencing God, and dramatic life changes. About becoming a giver. About reconciling with people who had wronged him. And about looking to God’s resources of wisdom and love which can reduce the anxiety of our problems.
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew, chapter 11).
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