GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) - Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley will not be removed from the case of a man serving a life sentence for murdering his wife 25 years ago, but who is trying to have the conviction overturned with DNA evidence.
State District Judge Billy Stubblefield on Tuesday rejected a request from the Innocence Project to force Bradley out based on its contention that he is too biased to fairly consider whether a bloody bandanna found near the crime scene could clear Michael Morton.
In 1986, Morton became the prime suspect in the beating death of his wife, Christine, in their Williamson County home.
The New York-based Innocence Project says in court documents filed on Morton's behalf that a court-ordered test on the bandana contains the DNA of another man. They have since identified that man whose name they are not releasing publicly. An attorney for Morton told the court the man is a violent criminal and is not currently incarcerated.
The filing also contends that Bradley should be removed from the case because he suppressed an interview transcript that strengthened Morton's case.
Bradley was not in the courtroom on Tuesday. But Assistant District Attorney Christian Jernigan assured Stubblefield that she would keep an open mind in the investigation and cooperate with the defense team.
The hearing was held in public, but when attorneys described to the judge the DNA found on a bloody bandanna, the discussion at the bench was private.
Attorneys on both sides and the judge expressed the importance of the investigation into the new evidence. Stubblefield call it "an extraordinary case."
"This evidence is extraordinary, and what (a lawyer) told me at the bench is even more extraordinary," Stubblefield said.
At the end of the hour-and-a-half hearing , the judge ordered everyone involved in the case not to talk to the media.
The next hearing is scheduled Sept. 27
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