Getting Life: An Innocent Man's 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace [NOOK Book]


He spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He lost his wife, his son, and his freedom. This is the story of how Michael Morton finally got justice—and a second chance at life.

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 ...
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Getting Life: An Innocent Man's 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace

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He spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He lost his wife, his son, and his freedom. This is the story of how Michael Morton finally got justice—and a second chance at life.

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 unidentified 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 neighboring 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.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 06/15/2014
In this absorbing first-person narrative, first-time author Morton shows readers how it is possible in our justice system to be convicted of a crime without substantial evidence. One afternoon in August 1986, Morton returned home from work to find that his wife had been bludgeoned to death. He became the prime suspect, even though there was nothing to tie him to the murder. Tried and convicted, Morton spent 25 years behind bars in Williamson County, TX, until the New York-based Innocence Project took on his case and secured his release using DNA evidence. The happier side to all this is that Morton holds no grudges, and, back at home, he has found peace through a new marriage and a new life. The narrative deals mostly with the man's personal traumas during his incarceration as well as his prison experiences—readers may prefer one or the other of these or they may learn about his courage to find forgiveness despite everything that has happened. VERDICT Written in a crisp style, this book should appeal to almost any reader who is interested in true crime stories. It is a must-read for students and professionals in criminal justice.—Frances O. Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY
Publishers Weekly
In 1986, 32-year-old Michael Morton’s life changed forever the day his wife, Christine, was bludgeoned to death in their bed while their three-year-old son looked on. In this eloquent, page-turning memoir, Morton recalls his wrongful conviction of that murder and the 25 years he spent in the hellish Texas penal system before DNA tests proved his innocence. He describes his trial, in which, he explains, the prosecutor in the rural county outside of Austin blatantly withheld exculpatory evidence. Despite being railroaded and sentenced to life in prison, Morton’s attitude remains more positive than you’d expect: he’s determined to bring his wife’s real killer to justice, even as he’s exposed to some of the harshest prisons in Texas. With the help of the New York–based Innocence Project, a legal effort founded to overturn wrongful convictions through DNA testing, Morton pushed through years of blocked appeals until the courts finally approved testing a bloody bandana found near the murder scene (it revealed the DNA of another man, who would be found guilty of the murder in 2013). (July)
David R. Dow
“Imagine spending twenty-five years in prison for a murder you did not commit. Imagine the murder victim was your wife, the love of your life. And imagine it all happened because prosecutors and law enforcement officials cooked up a case against you and hid evidence that would have identified the real killer. Michael Morton doesn't have to imagine, because he lived it. It's usually a cliché to say someone has been to hell and back, but in Morton's case that is exactly what happened, and his stunning and lyrical account of the journey will break your heart, then make you mad, and finally fill you with hope.”
Dan Rather
“A true Texas story of how our system of justice can itself be criminal. Michael Morton’s powerful tale will take you with him into mourning, into prison, and finally, thankfully, back out into the light.”
“In straightforward, thoughtful prose, surprisingly devoid of bitterness, from his personal journals as well as with court transcripts, Morton details his love for his wife and son, his loss of both, and his years spent surviving in prison and trying to prove his innocence. A powerful memoir and a powerful indictment of the U.S. judicial system and its potential to imprison innocent men and women.”
The New York Times - Nicholas Kristof
"A stunning memoir...A great deal has been written about the shortcomings of the American criminal justice system, but perhaps nothing more searing than Morton’s book, 'Getting Life.' It is a devastating and infuriating book, more astonishing than any legal thriller by John Grisham...Morton is able to deliver this aching and poignant look at the criminal justice system only because he didn’t get a death sentence."
The Austin Chronicle
"Even for readers who may feel practically jaded about stories of injustice in Texas – even those who followed this case closely in the press – could do themselves a favor by picking Michael Morton's new memoir…It is extremely well-written, insightful, infuriating, and, in places, quite funny."
Austin American-Statesman
“A lively and intimate account of his rise from pariah to celebrated survivor after DNA evidence and determined lawyers proved his innocence after 25 years in prison…What makes Morton’s story so intriguing is the ease with which most people can put themselves in his place — the victim of a crime treated like a criminal — and wonder if they could cope, let alone survive.”
San Antonio Express-News
“A jarring testament that truth really can be stranger than fiction…the writing is snappy and clean, with more wit than one might expect.”
Hudson Valley News
"A tale of grave injustice and, finally, great strength and courage and intelligence."
Kirkus Reviews
A man falsely convicted of murdering his wife shares his story.Already the subject of several articles, TV segments and a documentary, Morton chronicles his remarkable 25-year ordeal in a sweeping autobiography. The author’s family relocated from California to Texas when Morton was a teenager in the early 1980s, and while in college, he fell in love with and married Christine Kirkpatrick, a kindhearted, gregarious girl with whom he would conceive a son. The day after his 32ndbirthday in 1986, the author arrived home to discover his wife bludgeoned to death. Compounding his grief was an investigator who soon positioned Morton as a suspect, even though his brother-in-law found some “overlooked” bloodstained evidence and his son provided an eyewitness confession about seeing the real murderer. The author ably demonstrates the heinous result of a bungled investigation by police detectives desperate to collar a perpetrator and aggressively angling to tie Morton to his wife’s grisly murder. With few leads to go on, Morton became the lead suspect, and his personal depiction of the prosecution and ensuing laborious trial proceedings is riveting. More than a month after the crime, he was arrested, convicted by jury trial and sentenced to serve a life sentence in prison. As unsettling as his jail time was, Morton’s chronicle of his time there is a vicarious penitentiary tour for inquisitive readers. The author kept a diary during this time and remained surprisingly free of anger and acrimony, one day sure he would exonerate himself. His plight for freedom was bolstered by DNA evidence presented by a pair of humanitarian attorneys, including one from the Innocence Project. The conviction of both a misguided prosecutor who suppressed evidence and the real murderer, Mark Alan Norwood, allowed Morton, now almost 60, the freedom to remarry and live as a liberated man.An intimate, gripping portrayal of a grievous miscarriage of justice.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476756844
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 7/8/2014
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 17,832
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Michael Morton was born in Texas, grew up in California, and moved back to Texas in high school. While living in Austin, Michael was convicted of murdering his wife—a crime he did not commit. He spent almost twenty-five years in prison before being exonerated through the efforts of the Innocence Project, pro bono lawyer John Raley, and advances in DNA technology. Michael is now remarried and lives on a lake in rural East Texas, relishing and appreciating what others may take for granted.
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Customer Reviews

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( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 19, 2014

    This is a very moving, sad, insightful, and compelling book abou

    This is a very moving, sad, insightful, and compelling book about an innocent man who was sent to prison for 25 yrs. It will touch your heart, make you want to scream ,cry, and then rejoice when he is freed thru the hard work of the Innocence Project.The pain he and his family went thru, especially losing his son,it is amazing he was able to hold onto his Faith.,

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2014

    I thought this looked like it would be an interesting read when

    I thought this looked like it would be an interesting read when I spotted it in the bookstore. Well, this book far surpassed my expectations! Once I began, I could not put it down. This is the sort of book that makes you feel bad when you read that last page. It was honest, many times frightening. But, the most important aspect of this book was it's uplifting spirit. Through everything, Mr. Morton persevered. I so admire his spirit and wish him all the best. I highly recommend this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Having been through many criminal justice/ criminal forensic cla

    Having been through many criminal justice/ criminal forensic classes, I was very interested in learning more about the Innocence Project. My professors spoke of this program several times and the work that goes on to free these innocent people who were abused by the system. One of my professors wanted to have someone come and speak to the class, but it didn't work out. When I was offered the opportunity to review Michael Morton's story, I was eager to read it.

    The way that this memoir is written is like Michael is sitting right there telling you his story and the ghastly struggle with a corrupt police and court system while mourning his wife.

    As I read each chapter that focused on the the investigation of his wife, Chris, I was shocked and sickened to how he was treated and how the ineptness of this sheriff and deputy handled things. Chris' brother John was a better investigator and had the skills to find the proper evidence. He found three important pieces and kept them from being contaminated like someone from CSU should have done. I mean my goodness, the system in the 80's wasn't as technologically advanced as it is today, with DNA, but it was there, things would have been found in the system.

    As his story progressed to his time in prison, you got to see how prison can change a person. It doesn't matter if your are guilty or innocent, it's a tough place to live in. Michael showed such strength though. He kept fighting, he never gave up, even when it seemed he hit rock bottom in those years, he still pushed forward.

    When the Innocence Project got involved and help fight for Michael, the battle they faced from this county was infuriating, but their diligence in proving that he was innocent was amazing.

    I will say, I don't cry much, but there were a couple of parts that really got to me in his story. There were tears of joy for him and tears of sorrow for his son Eric. The joyful tears where after a hard fought battle, Michael got out of prison. What an amazing day that was! The tears of sorrow was when another trial came along and Michael's son Eric finally saw what all happened to his mother Chris.

    I will say, what Micheal said in this book is true. When some one is killed their body is now a crime scene and they are also now an exhibit for court. In my studies, I've been taught to keep emotions separate when viewing these things, but in the story, seeing how it affects the family, it really got to me and made me hurt for them.

    This was a phenomenal account. I believe if some one is interested in going into the police work or criminal law, they should read this. This is a story that will stick with a person.

    I will give a small warning to those out there, that this book does talk about death and a crime scene and gives descriptions of it and it speaks of the crime scene photos and people's reactions to them. There is a little language, not much, it was used for demonstration purposes only and in testimony for court.

    Thank you to Simon & Schuster, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2014

    Highly Recommend.

    I enjoyed this book because it was well written and a true store. There are a few sad parts that brought tears. I reminds me to keep and open mind as thing are not alwars as they seem to be and our judges, law enforcement are not always honest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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