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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”.

Michael Morton (click to show source)

In brief:
• 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?”

Morton family (click to show source).

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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7 Responses to Michael Morton Un-murderer

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  2. Sheila Thompson |

    I watched this twice and was so touched. I cannot imagine 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The peace on his face as he told stories of what he endured were so sad. Then the amazing transformation with the dramatic change in his life after the experience with the Lord. Ian, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is certainly a story worth sharing.

  3. Mary Ann Pollock |

    Thanks for sharing that story. It made me cry. I cannot
    imagine being in prison for one year so 25 years is incomprehensible to me. We are so blessed to have a God
    that loves us so much that he can take our sorrows and replace it with peace.

    • Your sentence “A God who can take our sorrows and replace them with peace” is a marvelous understanding of God, and a great practical comfort to His followers. Thank you.

  4. Dale Bryant |

    Its sad that so many innocent people are in prison and real criminals out walking the streets! Lord help us! One is Amber Hilberling, the young lady in Tulsa who pushed her husband during a marital discord and he went through the window of the 16th floor apartment to his death. I see it as a tragic accident and I think many see it that way. 25 years in prison? His parents were on TV saying she should never be set free, because “someone died, a penalty must be paid”, which just exasperates things. I feel Amber has things working against her in Tulsa, because his parents have some influence there and they of course are going to side against her. She and her grandmother were secretly and illegally filmed while talking while waiting in a room just after the accident, which is kind of fishy, too. Pay the penalty? It may be the owner of the building. Why? the windows were made of basically picture frame glass that could easily break instead of the stronger kind that might stop a person from going through.THAT is criminal! We’ll see what comes from that.

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