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MICHAEL W. MORTON v. STATE TEXAS (12/14/88)

December 14, 1988

MICHAEL W. MORTON, APPELLANT
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, APPELLEE



FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY, 26TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, NO. 86-452-K, HONORABLE WILLIAM S. LOTT, JUDGE.

COUNSEL

Mr. William P. Allison, White & Allison, P.C., Austin.

Honorable Ken Anderson, District Attorney, Georgetown.

Shannon, C.j., and Carroll and Jones, JJ.

Author: Carroll

Jimmy Carroll, Justice

Christine Morton was beaten to death sometime during the early morning hours of August 13, 1986. A jury found her husband, Michael, guilty of her murder and assessed life imprisonment and a 55,000 fine. Tex. Pen. Code Ann. ยง 19.02 (1974). We will affirm the judgment of the district court.

BACKGROUND

The State's view of the case can be briefly stated: Morton and his wife had a past history of conflict regarding her personal appearance and her lack of interest in sex; he had planned a romantic evening on his birthday; she rejected him; he became enraged and in a fit of sexual frustration and anger, beat her to death with a billy club, then masturbated onto the sheet next to her dead body.

Morton testified in his own defense, and his theory of the case is also easily stated: he admitted their conflict and his frustration upon her rejection, but he denied killing her. According to him, Christine was alive when he left for work and must have been killed by an unseen and unknown burglar.*fn1

THE EVIDENCE AT TRIAL

The story told by the evidence at trial is a chilling one. Shortly after noon on August 13th, a neighbor noticed the Mortons' three-year-old child wandering around outside and became concerned. The neighbor entered the house and called out to Christine. While in the house, she found a note apparently written by Morton to Christine before he left for work that day.*fn2 (This note was later discovered by the police and was introduced at trial.) In the master bedroom she discovered blood on the floor, and then noticed the body and called the police.

Williamson County Deputy Sheriff Wayne Lock was the first law enforcement officer on the scene. He made a preliminary search of the home and determined that the house was empty. He found the murdered woman lying in bed, covered with a quilt, with a suitcase and a laundry hamper stacked on top of the quilt.

Lock promptly secured the scene and called in a report to the Sheriff's office. Additional law enforcement personnel arrived a short time later and began what Morton characterizes as a six or seven hour search of the premises ...


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