Former prosecutor Ken Anderson was released from jail Friday morning after serving just half of his 10-day sentence for contempt of court in connection with the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.
He was released early because he got credit for good behavior behind bars, said Capt. Fred Thomas, a spokesman for the Williamson County sheriff’s office.
Inmates with misdemeanor offenses can earn an extra day of credit for every day they serve without creating any disciplinary problems, said Thomas. Anderson, 61, who had already served one day in jail back in April, returned to the jail Tuesday for his 10-day sentence.
“Mr. Anderson was kept separate from the other inmates due to security concerns,” said Thomas. “He ate the same meals, had the same access to reading material and had the same medical exam upon entry to the facility as other inmates. Sheriff (James) Wilson issued explicit orders that Mr. Anderson would not receive special treatment, other than being segregated for security reasons.”
Anderson’s lawyers did not respond Friday to requests for comment.
“It is not the length of the incarceration but the fact that there was an incarceration at all which is historic,” said John Raley, one of Morton’s lawyers.
While it is rare for prosecutors to be jailed for withholding evidence, it has happened before. In 2007, former Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong was sentenced to one day in jail for withholding DNA evidence that helped exonerate three Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexual assault.
District Judge Kelly Moore found Anderson in criminal contempt of court Nov. 8 for telling Morton’s judge in a 1987 pretrial hearing that he had no evidence favorable to Morton. Morton spent almost 25 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of the murder of his wife.
Moore also ordered Anderson to pay a $500 fine and serve 500 hours of community service within five years.
Anderson was Williamson County’s district attorney for 16 years before he became a district judge in 2002. He was accused of hiding two pieces of evidence that fit with the defense’s theory that Morton’s wife, Christine, was killed by a stranger who entered their home through an unlocked back door.
DNA tests done years later led police to Mark Norwood, who was convicted earlier this year for Christine Morton’s murder.