In Texas, a wrongly convicted man relies on God and church

David Paulin
Michael Morton, who spent nearly 25 years in a Texas prison before DNA testing exonerated him of his wife's murder, was married on Saturday in Liberty City, a small town in East Texas. The story of Morton's marriage to Cynthia May Chessman, a divorced mother with three children, has much to do with God and the First Baptist Church Liberty City, according to an article on Sunday in the wedding section of The New York Times, "Ready to Share a Life of Front-Page News."

As reporter Manny Fernandez explains:

After his release, Mr. Morton moved in with his parents in Liberty City, Tex., and later started renting a house in nearby Kilgore, a town of 13,000 in the East Texas piney woods 120 miles east of Dallas. One evening in January 2012, he was invited to speak at First Baptist Church Liberty City, which he and his parents had been attending since his release. At the church that night, Mr. Morton spoke of his spiritual journey -- one night in 2001 in his cell, he said, he felt the presence of God bathing him in a golden light -- and he told the audience that if anyone wanted to learn more about prison life, he would meet for a cup of coffee.
 
Ms. Chessman, a member of the church, was there that night. "I was actually working in the sound booth, so I was paying real close attention to everything he was saying," she said. "As he was talking, he said some things that just really rang common with me: that we had both been in a kind of rock-bottom place and needing the Lord to show us something."
 
Ms. Chessman, 56, was born and raised in New Mexico and had settled in Liberty City with her first husband and raised their three children. She was married for 23 years before divorcing in 2005. She knew Mr. Morton's family before she knew Mr. Morton, living around the corner from his sister and attending the same church, and had been praying for him and his release from prison for years.

Regarding how the First Baptist Church facilitated the courtship, the article explains:

"One person who was both awed by their compatibility, and approving of their grown-up courtship, was the church's longtime pastor, the Rev. Bruce Wells. "It started very slowly in their relationship, and just kind of grew," Mr. Wells said. "We didn't really do anything but just provide a place of love and care, particularly for Michael, to take him in. No one really encouraged the relationship. We just happened to be the right place to be of help."

Instead of wedding gifts, the couple asked the approximately 200 wedding guests to "donate to the Innocence Project, the nonprofit group founded at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University that uses DNA evidence to free the wrongfully convicted from prison." What's more, they will be postponing their Caribbean honeymoon in order to attend the trial of Mark A. Norwood whom police now say murdered Christine Morton. Last month, the article notes that a court of inquiry was convened to determine whether the prosecutor at Morton's trial, Ken Anderson, illegally withheld evidence. Anderson is now a Texas district judge appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.

Regarding her 58-year-old husband, Chessman is quoted as saying that "I've marveled the whole time that I've known him at (his) lack of bitterness."

For the whole story, click here.

 

(For earlier American Thinker articles on the Michael Morton case, click here and here.)
Michael Morton, who spent nearly 25 years in a Texas prison before DNA testing exonerated him of his wife's murder, was married on Saturday in Liberty City, a small town in East Texas. The story of Morton's marriage to Cynthia May Chessman, a divorced mother with three children, has much to do with God and the First Baptist Church Liberty City, according to an article on Sunday in the wedding section of The New York Times, "Ready to Share a Life of Front-Page News."

As reporter Manny Fernandez explains:

After his release, Mr. Morton moved in with his parents in Liberty City, Tex., and later started renting a house in nearby Kilgore, a town of 13,000 in the East Texas piney woods 120 miles east of Dallas. One evening in January 2012, he was invited to speak at First Baptist Church Liberty City, which he and his parents had been attending since his release. At the church that night, Mr. Morton spoke of his spiritual journey -- one night in 2001 in his cell, he said, he felt the presence of God bathing him in a golden light -- and he told the audience that if anyone wanted to learn more about prison life, he would meet for a cup of coffee.
 
Ms. Chessman, a member of the church, was there that night. "I was actually working in the sound booth, so I was paying real close attention to everything he was saying," she said. "As he was talking, he said some things that just really rang common with me: that we had both been in a kind of rock-bottom place and needing the Lord to show us something."
 
Ms. Chessman, 56, was born and raised in New Mexico and had settled in Liberty City with her first husband and raised their three children. She was married for 23 years before divorcing in 2005. She knew Mr. Morton's family before she knew Mr. Morton, living around the corner from his sister and attending the same church, and had been praying for him and his release from prison for years.

Regarding how the First Baptist Church facilitated the courtship, the article explains:

"One person who was both awed by their compatibility, and approving of their grown-up courtship, was the church's longtime pastor, the Rev. Bruce Wells. "It started very slowly in their relationship, and just kind of grew," Mr. Wells said. "We didn't really do anything but just provide a place of love and care, particularly for Michael, to take him in. No one really encouraged the relationship. We just happened to be the right place to be of help."

Instead of wedding gifts, the couple asked the approximately 200 wedding guests to "donate to the Innocence Project, the nonprofit group founded at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University that uses DNA evidence to free the wrongfully convicted from prison." What's more, they will be postponing their Caribbean honeymoon in order to attend the trial of Mark A. Norwood whom police now say murdered Christine Morton. Last month, the article notes that a court of inquiry was convened to determine whether the prosecutor at Morton's trial, Ken Anderson, illegally withheld evidence. Anderson is now a Texas district judge appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.

Regarding her 58-year-old husband, Chessman is quoted as saying that "I've marveled the whole time that I've known him at (his) lack of bitterness."

For the whole story, click here.

 

(For earlier American Thinker articles on the Michael Morton case, click here and here.)