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Norwood's Ex-Wife Testifies In Murder Trial
by Brandi Grissom
Updated, 12:35 p.m.:
Outside of the jury's presence, prosecutor Lisa Tanner told a judge Friday afternoon that she will attempt to introduce evidence tying Mark Norwood to the Jan. 13, 1988, murder of Debra Baker, who was beaten to death in a similar manner as Christine Morton.
Tanner told the judge that the prosecution intends to present evidence that Norwood's DNA was identified on two pieces of hair found in Baker's home: one found next to her body in the bed where she was beaten to death, the other on a towel in a bathroom.
Tanner said Baker lived about two-tenths of a mile from where Norwood lived at the time. She said a VCR was stolen but as in the Morton case, jewelry in plain sight was left behind. "There is no innocent explanation for the defendant being in that house," Tanner said.
After a lunch break, the judge will hear arguments from both sides about whether the jury should hear the evidence from the Baker case.
SAN ANGELO — The ex-wife of Mark Norwood, who was married to him at the time of Christine Morton's 1986 murder, took the stand Friday, testifying that he was often gone late at night during their marriage, saying he was working on carpet installation jobs.
Judy Norwood spoke during the fourth day of testimony in the murder trial of Mark Norwood, who is charged with murdering Christine Morton in her North Austin home. Christine Morton's husband Michael Morton was wrongfully convicted of the crime in 1987 and served nearly 25 years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him and linked Norwood to the crime. Norwood, who has pleaded not guilty, faces life in prison if convicted.
Judy Norwood testified that she married Mark Norwood in 1983 when she was 16 years old. She said he insisted she sue her parents so that she could be considered old enough to live with him.
They moved from Nashville, where they met, to Austin in January 1984 with their 4-month-old son, Thomas. She said they lived on Justin Lane, about 12 miles from the Mortons' home.
She said that the young family struggled financially. "Things were higher [priced] here, and I had to go to work."
She had multiple jobs and often worked night shifts, when she would leave their son with Norwood. She said she stopped working at night after coming home once and finding that Norwood had left their son alone.
Judy Norwood testified that when her husband worked as a carpet installer for a company called Leon's Tile he would be gone late at night, telling her he was working. "He said not to question him," she said. "I just took his word for it."
She left her husband and moved back to Tennessee to be near her family in the early 1990s. She said things weren’t good in Austin. "Mark wasn't working and I wasn't working and it just wasn't good," she said. The couple didn't divorce until 2000 or 2001, she said.
A man named Louis "Sonny" Homer Wann helped her move back to Tennessee. Wann was a friend and employer of Norwood. Wann, whose videotaped deposition was shown to jurors on Thursday, has said that he purchased from Norwood a .45-caliber pistol that was stolen from the Mortons' home on the day that Christine Morton was murdered.
The defense asked Judy Norwood about her relationship with Wann.
Although Wann said that he moved to Tennessee to be near Judy Norwood, she testified that he moved from Austin because he was going through a tough divorce. "I was working, and I wouldn't give him time," she said. Although it was obvious that Wann wanted a romantic relationship with her, she said, she didn't reciprocate.
During her testimony, she cried when prosecutors showed a photo of her son with Mark Norwood. The boy was wearing a black tank top and had a big smile. Norwood stood behind him with a red bandana sticking out of his pocket.
Also on the stand Friday morning was Austin police cold case Detective Richard Faithful. He was one of the detectives who interviewed Wann in Tennessee in October 2011 and tracked down the gun that prosecutors allege Mark Norwood stole from the Mortons' home. Faithful said that Wann voluntarily talked bout the gun and that he also agreed to let them take the gun to Austin.
Faithful said that Wann gave specific details about purchasing the gun from Norwood.
He said that initially, officers didn't expect to find the gun because it had been 25 years since the crime. And they were surprised to see that the serial number on the weapon matched the number of the gun stolen from Morton’s home. "I mean that's just amazing," Faithful said.
The defense will question Faithful later Friday. Norwood's trial is expected to last through next week.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/03/22/norwoods-ex-wife-testifies-murder-trial/.