GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) - A true case of "he said, she said." The first day of early voting in Williamson County brought plenty of political punches in the race for district attorney.
Incumbent John Bradley is working to defend himself against a campaign largely focused on the Michael Morton case. His opponent, Williamson County Attorney Jana Duty , has put the issue front and center in the last few weeks before the Texas primary.
Morton was wrongfully convicted of his wife's 1986 murder and recently set free after nearly 25 years thanks to DNA testing. Bradley did not try that case, but he fought the testing for six years.
"Mr. Bradley fought tooth and nail against testing some very critical evidence in that case and actually had to be court-ordered to test that evidence that ended up exonerating Mr. Morton," Duty said in her most recent campaign ad. "By withholding evidence, refusing to do DNA testing, a serial killer was allowed to walk the streets for 25 years."
Morton's wife Christine was beaten to death in their family's home in Williamson County. Then-Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson is now being investigated for withholding evidence in the trial that would have set Morton free.
On Monday, Bradley spoke about Duty's link to that case.
"Jana Duty stood up in court and told the judge that we acted professionally, diligently and prudently," he said, regarding Duty representing the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office. "Now, she has lied to the public to pretend she was never involved in all of this, so that she can use this as a political issue."
Duty explained it was her statutory obligation to represent those entities in that instance.
"It wasn't on the merits of the case," she said. "We were not arguing that DNA testing should not have been done. It was just on the merits of: Does the federal court have jurisdiction to hear the case?"
Duty recently received the endorsement of Caitlin Baker – the daughter of another murdered woman. In 1988, her mother, Debra, was beaten to death in her North Austin home just three days before Caitlin's birthday.
DNA has connected Mark Norwood to the Morton and Baker murder scenes, although he has only been charged in the Morton case. Baker said Bradley's fight against DNA testing in the Morton case delayed justice – one of the main reasons she endorsed Bradley.
"John Bradley did have a part in this," Baker said. "Jana Duty has said she'll make sure this never happens again."
"I know what people need is an experienced prosecutor who will keep the crime rate low," said Bradley.
Bradley has released a series of ads leading up to the May 29 Republican primary. He has come out swinging in one ad that mentions sanctions against Duty for eithical violations. The ad says Bradley is seriousa bout protecting the community and that he has successfully prosecuted felony cases for more than 20 years.
Bradley has received endorsement of the round Rock Police Assoication, but 11 other law enformcent agencies have endorsed Duty.
However, Bradley just received his own big-name endorsement – Gov. Rick Perry.
At a recent Williamson County event, Perry praised Bradley for his "support of crime victims, people who have truly been wronged. John Bradley is there to stand up for them."
Family and friends held a vigil Wednesday at the State Capitol in hopes that a Bastrop man can win a new trial.
An unusually cold blast of arctic air arriving early Thursday will be followed by an increasing chance of freezing drizzle/rain and sleet by Friday morning.
The HealthCare.gov website is working more smoothly for central Texans.
City leaders in West Lake Hills discussed the ongoing concern with the city's water system Wednesday night. The problems arise when water is needed most; fighting fires.
Federal, state and local authorities on Wednesday arrested 15 people and seized 70 firearms in raid on a methamphetamine operation based in Burnet County.
Former Georgetown Police Officer Stephanie Brown said her ex-boyfriend, former Round Rock Officer Eric Poteet, made up accusations against her after she broke up with him.