“A devastating and infuriating book, more astonishing than any legal thriller by John Grisham” (The New York Times) about a young father who spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit…and his eventual exoneration and return to life as a free man.
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.
Drawing on his recollections, court transcripts, and more than 1,000 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 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, which was never followed up on; and ultimately, how he battled his way through the darkness to become a free man once again.
“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 up Michael Morton’s new memoir…It is extremely well-written [and] insightful” (The Austin Chronicle). Getting Life is an extraordinary story of unfathomable tragedy, grave injustice, and the strength and courage it takes to find forgiveness.
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.
“Morton poignantly recounts half a lifetime spent behind bars and underscores the glaring errors of our justice system.”
"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. "
– Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
“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.”
– David R. Dow, Founder of Texas Innocence Network and author of The Autobiography of an Execution and Things I've Learned from Dying: A Book About
“An intimate, gripping portrayal of a grievous miscarriage of justice.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“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.”
– Dan Rather
"[An] eloquent, page-turning memoir."
– Publishers Weekly
“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.”
"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 up Michael Morton's new memoir…It is extremely well-written, insightful, infuriating, and, in places, quite funny."
– The Austin Chronicle
“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.”
– Austin American-Statesman
“A jarring testament that truth really can be stranger than fiction…the writing is snappy and clean, with more wit than one might expect.”
– San Antonio Express-News
"A tale of grave injustice and, finally, great strength and courage and intelligence."