Williamson County authorities have arrested 57-year-old Mark Alan Norwood for the 1986 murder of Christine Morton.
Norwood was arrested at his Bastrop home on Wednesday morning, according to Sgt. John Foster with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.
Michael Morton, Christine’s husband, spent nearly 25 years behind bars for the crime before being exonerated last month.
Morton’s lawyers worked for six years to have DNA testing performed on a bandana found at the crime scene. That DNA did not match Michael Morton's, but was matched to Norwood, who had a known criminal record in California.
“DNA played a very crucial role in this. You can’t deny that. You can’t deny that an innocent person went to jail over this,” Sgt. Foster said. “In this case, we have enough to believe that Mr. Norwood committed this murder and that is why Mr. Norwood is in the Williamson County Jail tonight.”
According to the arrest affidavit, authorities interviewed Norwood regarding the DNA match in August of 2011. Norwood told the police that he was living in Austin in 1986 and worked as a carpet layer.
The affidavit said Norwood could not provide an “innocent explanation” for why his DNA was found at the crime scene.
Norwood’s DNA is also linked to the Debra Baker murder in Travis County in January of 1988.
The 57-year-old has a long criminal history. Public records show a 1975 arrest in Texas for marijuana possession and a 1987 arrest for stealing from a vehicle.
Norwood faced 9 criminal charges in Nashville, Tennessee from the years 1980 until 1983. Records show Norwood faced arson, aggravated assault, possession of a prohibited weapon, receiving stolen property and two charges of malicious destruction of property while in the city.
Norwood's been jailed in Williamson County on a capital murder charge and his bond is set at $750,000.
The Austin Police Department issued the following statement:
"The Austin Police Department is aware of the arrest of Mark Alan Norwood for the 1986 Williamson County murder of Christine Morton. Norwood is a suspect in the 1988 Travis County murder of Debra Baker.
The Austin Police Department is committed to a thorough investigation of Debra Baker’s murder. The investigation is on-going and progressing under the guidance of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.
APD will share information publicly at the point where it does not interfere with the forward movement of the investigation."