Michael Morton left for work early as he did every morning. He left his peacefully sleeping wife and new son. He came back to find his wife was beaten to death with his son a traumatized witness to the murder. He was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life.
Instead of the community wrapping its loving arms around this traumatized family and looking for the killer to protect others, the prosecution came down hard on Michael Morton. Mr. Morton had witnesses who placed him at work at the time but it didn’t seem to matter. The prosecutors fanned out to poison his friends, neighbors, family, and potential witnesses. Every little misstep or misunderstanding in his life was magnified all out of proportion and witnesses were pressured to “reinterpret” their impressions. The result was that Mr. Morton was convicted of murdering his wife and given a life sentence. His traumatized little boy lost his father just when he needed him most. No real evidence was provided at trial.
It turns out that the prosecution, not only never had any real evidence against Mr. Morton, but it actually hid real evidence brought to its attention that indicated someone else. A bloody handkerchief was found behind the home with the killer’s DNA on it. Neighbors reported a van which had been casing the neighborhood for a while. After Mrs. Morton’s death, her credit cards were used by a stranger in another town. All of this was buried by the prosecutors and they never followed up.
The real killer went on to kill again under the same circumstances.
The cover up was not disclosed by any authorities. It was only uncovered by determined civilians, often in the face of stiff resistance from the authorities. The prosecutor, after destroying an innocent man and his family, and letting the real killer roam free to kill again, was a district judge at that time. He retired with a full pension and spent four days in the county jail where he was catered to. That is all. At the time, it was considered a breakthrough because misbehaving court officials had never received any penalty for this sort of thing before. It would not be rational to think this was an isolated case.