AUSTIN (CN) – The Williamson County sheriff and district attorney have been accused of violating citizens’ constitutional rights by denying them access to DNA evidence in the cases of two murders that took place in the 1980s.
Michael Morton and Patricia Stapleton filed a federal lawsuit seeking access to forensic DNA and fingerprint technology that might help police solve the murders of two women who were bludgeoned to death in their homes less than a mile apart. One victim was Morton’s wife; the other was Stapleton’s mother.
The crime scenes revealed similarities in the perpetrator’s modus operandi, the lawsuit claims.
“Neither crime scene showed any signs of forced entry – yet in both, unidentified fingerprints were found on unlocked, sliding glass doors to the home,” the suit says. “And perhaps most notably, both victims were found with several items of household furniture stacked on top of their bodies.”
Morton was tried and convicted of murdering his wife – a crime he insists he did not commit. He remains in jail, hoping forensic evidence will clear his name.
Meanwhile, Stapleton has spent the last 27 years trying to track down her mother’s killer.
The plaintiffs claim they have repeatedly and unsuccessfully asked District Attorney John Bradley and Sheriff James Wilson to release critical DNA and fingerprint evidence for testing and analysis.
Failure to do so violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, the lawsuit claims. Morton and Stapleton seek an order forcing the defendants to hand over the evidence. They are represented by Cooper & Scully.