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Today In Texas Justice

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This story of another innocent man exonerated after 25 years in prison because of suppressed evidence (while the man who killed his wife was left free to kill at least one other person) contains an excellent of example of the kind of “evidence” that seems to frequently come up when innocent people have been convicted:

“There were a lot of cars in the street. There was a big yellow crime-scene ribbon around our house,” he says. “Neighbors were across the street, clustered on the corner … talking to each other, and of course, when my truck comes racing up, they all kind of key on me.”

Boutwell met Morton outside the front door and, in front of everyone, bluntly told him Christine Morton was dead, murdered in their bedroom. Morton reeled.

“You really don’t know how you’re going to react until it happens to you, and with me, I remember it was as if I was … falling inside myself,” he says.

Morton was stunned, nearly mute, which fueled the sheriff’s suspicions and became a major prosecution touchstone at his trial. The fact that Morton didn’t cry out or weep became evidence that he didn’t love his wife and had killed her.

As it happens, this also came up during the Willingham case. And, of course, Amanda Knox. And while Casey Anthony is a different issue in that it’s very possible that she actually committed the crime, the focus on how she allegedly acted incorrectly after the fact made it pretty clear that the state was lacking in actual evidence. There is, we can be confident, no single way in which people who find out that loved ones have been killed act.

In addition, see this recent story of a Texas woman convicted on an extraordinarily implausible theory that she poisoned her son with salt, which also relied heavily on this kind of crap. Hannah Overton is almost certainly another person rotting away in prison because of this variety of pseudo-evidence, and unfortunately she can’t be exonerated by DNA evidence.

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