Jurors in the capital murder trial of Mark Alan Norwood heard more Monday about the 1988 beating death of Debra Baker.
Norwood is on trial for the murder of Christine Morton in 1986, but he's also charged with killing Baker. Last week, the judge ruled prosecutors could include evidence from the Baker murder, saying there are enough similarities between the cases to include it in this trial.
Despite counter efforts from the defense, the jury for the first time saw photographs taken at the scene of Baker’s murder after she was bludgeoned to death in her bedroom. A book and a broken pair of glasses were found near the body. Investigators believe Baker was reading at the time of her death.
In the afternoon, Texas Department of Public Safety DNA Chief Jody Koehler detailed the forensic evidence tying Norwood to the murder.
Koehler told the court a DNA profile "hit" came to her attention in August, 2011.
The Austin Police Department’s Cold Case Unit was investigating Baker’s murder and asked the DNA expert to run an analysis of hair root material collected from the Baker homicide, and of the bloody blue bandana found near the scene of the Morton murder. At the time, Michael Morton, the husband of Christine Morton, was serving life in prison for her death.
Preliminary tests conducted by Koehler showed what she called "significant findings." The tests generated partial DNA profiles on five areas of the bandana found in 1986, leading to further detailed testing.
The results indicated that there was a 1 in 983,000,000 chance the DNA came from someone other than the defendant, Mark Alan Norwood.
Before the evidence was introduced, Norwood’s defense attorneys argued, as they did last week, that introducing the evidence would unfairly bias the jury.
Former Travis County Chief Forensic Pathologist Dr. Roberto Bayardo testified in the morning hours of court Monday, regarding Debra Baker’s murder and subsequent autopsy. Bayardo confirmed many of the similarities between the Morton and Baker murders, which were cited last week. Both women were struck on the head—about six to eight blows each. Both were middle-aged women, home alone. Cash was stolen from each crime scene, but expensive jewelry was left behind.
There were differences, however. According to Bayardo, Baker was killed with a small metal object, possibly a tire iron or something similar, whereas Morton was killed with a piece of wood. Wood fragments were found in Morton’s hair and skull.
Michael Morton was freed a week after the DNA match was made. Ken Anderson, the prosecutor in Morton’s trial and the man largely responsible for his wrongful conviction, is now a Williamson County District Judge. He is also under an investigation sanctioned by the Texas Supreme Court for prosecutorial misconduct.
If convicted, Norwood faces life in prison.