Outcry is a new docuseries on Showtime that chronicles the investigation into the sexual assault of a 4-year-old boy at an in-home daycare in Leander, Texas. High school senior Greg Kelley was convicted and served three years for the crime until the investigation was reopened after Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick received “credible” evidence that someone else may have committed the sexual assault.
Eventually, Kelley was exonerated, with presiding Judge Donna King finding Kelley “actually innocent. King apologized for the “systemic failure” of the original investigation and trial, according to Austin’s KVUE. By being found “actually innocent,” Kelley will be entitled to compensation under the Innocence Act for $80,000 for every year he was incarcerated, according to legal experts that spoke with KVUE.
Another case of wrongful conviction mentioned in Outcry is that of Michael Morton, who was convicted of murdering his wife in 1987. Morton says that he has a problem with the way the prosecutors are being presented in Outcry. Here’s what you need to know about his case and why he thinks the prosecutors’ portrayal is flawed.
Morton Was Convicted in 1987 and Exonerated in 2011
According to the Innocence Project, in 1986, Morton was working as a supermarket manager in Texas when his wife Christine was murdered in their home. She was bludgeoned to death with a wooden weapon and semen was found staining the sheets on the bed where her body lay.
The Mortons’ 3-year-old son Eric was a witness to the crime and told authorities that it was not his father. Neighbors also saw a man repeatedly parking a green van on the street behind the Mortons’ house in the time leading up to the murder. But this evidence was absent from the records given to the trial judge and in 1987, Morton was convicted of his wife’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2005, the Innocence Project took up his case. DNA evidence was tested from a bloody bandana found near the Mortons’ house. It matched Mark Norwood, a man whose hair was found at the scene of another woman found bludgeoned to death in her bed; her murdered happened two years after Christine Morton’s death, while Michael Morton was in prison.
Morton was eventually exonerated of his crime and released from prison in late 2011. Norwood was convicted of the crime in 2013; he was later convicted of the second murder and is currently serving life in prison for both crimes, according to KXAN.
In 2013, district court judge Ken Anderson, the man who prosecuted Morton’s original case, was charged with criminal contempt and tampering with evidence for concealing the exculpatory information from the trial judge and Morton’s defense team. The State Bar of Texas also brought ethics charges against him. He resigned from his position as a judge and permanently lost his license to practice law.
Finally, in 2013, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill known as the “Michael Morton Act,” which requires prosecutors to open their files to defendants and keep records of the evidence they disclose.
Morton Objects to Outcry’s Portrayal of Kelley’s Prosecutors
In a statement on his website, Morton details how Kelley’s lawyer, Patricia Cummings, was “one of the dedicated lawyers who represented me pro bono for many years while I was still in prison” and how “it was clear” she “worked tirelessly” on Kelley’s case.
But he also writes:
I was both shocked and dismayed to watch a preview of Outcry and see how the filmmakers portrayed the history of Greg’s case and my own. The film uses my story as a frame for the history of injustice in the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office and how my exoneration supposedly paved the way for new, reform-minded leadership. Remarkably, however, the film rehashes false allegations regarding Patricia’s handling of Greg’s case (which the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals already rejected), and never once mentions that Patricia was the only attorney in Williamson County who had the courage and integrity to represent me while I was still in prison.
It also portrays District Attorney Shawn Dick and his First Assistant, Lindsey Roberts, as “truth seekers” who were supposedly inspired by my exoneration to bring real change to Williamson County. Yet the film never mentions that they played key roles in seeking to obstruct an inquiry into the prosecutorial misconduct that caused my wrongful conviction and (in Mr. Roberts’s case) fought to keep me in prison even after DNA identified my wife’s real killer. Mr. Dick even rehired Mike Davis, one of the men who prosecuted me, as an ADA on his staff, where he remains today.
In a statement made to the Austin Statesman, District Attorney Dick said that viewers can reach their own conclusions.
“We work hard every day in our office to restore the professionalism, experience, and integrity of our Williamson County criminal justice system,” Dick said.
Outcry airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.