Jurors in Norwood murder trial hear evidence from Morton case

Morton takes stand in Norwood murder case

TRAVIS COUNTY - The trial for the 1988 death of Debra Baker resumed Monday, starting with a big decision from Judge Julie Kocurek.

After arguments from both prosecutors and defense attorneys, and a brief deliberation, Judge Kocurek ruled that jurors will hear evidence from the Christine Morton murder case.

Mark Norwood is already serving a life sentence for her beating death after a conviction in 2013.

After a week of hearing evidence, Kocurek said, "Identity is key in the Baker case," and that she has "no doubt" the Morton case is relevant to the Baker case in providing identity.

So far in the trial for Baker's death, prosecutors have been forbidden from discussing the murder of Christine Morton in front of the jury.

Michael Morton testified Monday morning. Norwood is already serving a life sentence for Christine Morton's murder, Michael's wife. Morton talked about the day of Aug. 13, 1986 when he got up for work, left Christine a note in the bathroom, and left. Later, he tried to pick up their son from the babysitter's only to find Christine had never dropped him off. When he got to his home, the Williamson County Sheriff told him Christine was dead.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys asked Morton about the guns he kept in the home. Specifically he described a pistol that he kept at the top of the closet in the master bedroom. It was missing as sheriff's deputies investigated Morton's death.

The testimony started Monday with Elizabeth Morgan -- formerly Elizabeth Gee -- who lived next to Michael and Christine Morton in the 1980s.

Morgan spoke about the morning of Aug. 13, 1986 when she noticed the Morton's young son running around outside. She said he was dirty, so she went in to change his clothes. She didn't see or hear Michael or Christine, but saw a car in the driveway. After a while, she looked for them, and found Christine's body in the bed of the master bedroom. She only saw a wrist and feet. Morgan took a pulse, but there wasn't one. She called police.

Jurors also saw photos from Morton's bedroom, which showed things stacked on top of Christine's head. The items appeared to be a trunk and suitcase.

Next, a former Williamson County sheriffs deputy, David Michael Lock, testified. He said he responded to a call that morning, and saw Christine's body in the bedroom. He noticed a camera and an unused condom in the living room.

Also to testify, John and Diane Kirkpatrick. John Kirkpatrick was Christine Morton's brother. The Kirkpatrick's talked about the day they got the phone call about Morton's death. At they time they lived in Galveston and rushed to Austin. As part of their own searching and investigation, John found a blue bandanna near a home under construction which was behind the Morton's home, separated by a thick wooded area. He also found a napkin with stains he believed were blood. He put each a plastic bag and gave to law enforcement as possible evidence.

Last week, jurors heard testimony from DNA testing experts along with testimony from Baker's and Norwood's family.

Follow reporter Christy Millweard on Twitter for updates from the courtroom as Norwood's trial continues Monday.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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