Review: Getting Life by Michael Morton

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Getting Life:  An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace by Michael Morton

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 2014 (first published 2012)

Source: Purchased

“On August 13 1986, just one day after his thirty-second birthday, Michael Morton went to work at his usual time.  By the end of the day, his wife Christine had been savagely bludgeoned to death in the couple’s bed – and the Williamson County Sherriff’s office in Texas wasted no time in pinning her murder on Michael, despite an absolute lack of physical evidence.  Michael was swiftly sentenced to life in prison for a crime he had not committed.

He mourned his wife from a prison cell.  He lost all contact with their son.  Life, as he knew it, was over.

It would take twenty-five years – and thousands of hours of effort on the part of Michael’s lawyers, including the team at the New York-based Innocence Project – before DNA evidence was brought to light that would ultimately set Michael free.  The evidence had been collected only days after the murder – but was never investigated.

Drawing on his recollections, court transcripts, and more than one thousand pages of personal journals he wrote in prison, Michael recounts the hidden police reports about an unidenfitifed van parked near his house that were never pursued; the treasure trove of evidence, including a bandana with the killer’s DNA on it, that was never introduced in court; the call from a neighbouring county reporting the attempted use of his wife’s credit card (a message that was received, recorded, and never returned by local police); and ultimately, how he battled his way through the darkness to become a free man once again.  

Getting Life is an extraordinary story of unfathomable tragedy, grave injustice, and the strength and courage it takes to find forgiveness.”

After my disillusion with Life After Death by Damien Echols, I was still looking to scratch the itch Making a Murderer had left.  Bookriot recommended Getting Life by Michael Morton, and this turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.

The miscarriage of justice that saw Michael Morton fester in prison for 25 years was deplorable.  This man lost his whole life.  He was grieving for the wife he loved and for the loss of his son with whom he lost touch, the son who thought his father was a monster who murdered his mother.  Morton never gave up hope that he would be freed of this crime he did not commit and worked tirelessly with lawyers to clear his name.

And yet through all of this, Michael Morton remains dignified and humble.  The feel of this book is one of peace and forgiveness – a stark contrast to the anger and bitterness of Damien Echols in Life After Death.  Clearly there are huge differences in these two stories, but also many similarities.  The contrast between the two characters is remarkable.  This man’s journey is astonishing and he is an inspiration to us all.  Thank goodness for the Innocence Project and thank goodness for science and the discovery of DNA!

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