Koror, Palau: The president of Palau has defended appointing a US lawyer who left his previous role as Texas county prosecutor amid controversy over an innocent man who spent almost 25 years behind bars.
President Tommy Remengesau confirmed former Williamson County district attorney John Bradley would take up a position as assistant attorney general in the tiny Pacific nation later this month.
Bradley was voted out of office in Williamson County two years ago in an election the Texas Monthly said had become "a referendum on his handling of the Michael Morton case".
Morton was convicted after his wife was found bludgeoned to death in 1986 and spent decades denying her murder.
When his lawyers argued in 2005 that scientific advances could exonerate him, Bradley refused to allow DNA testing, dismissing the application as a ploy by a guilty man.
The tests were eventually carried out when an appeal court overruled the district attorney and, as a result, Morton walked free in 2011.
Another man, Mark Alan Norwood, was convicted of Christine Morton's murder after the tests showed both his and her DNA on a bloodied bandanna found near the crime scene.
Remengesau said Bradley acknowledged he was wrong to block the DNA testing and "is painfully aware that his actions kept an innocent man locked up for longer than he should have been".
But he said Bradley deserved a second chance and was seeking it in the island nation of 22,000 people, which is best known for its spectacular diving sites.
"Mr. Bradley says that the Morton case has changed him as a person and has made him a more balanced, fair, and humble prosecutor," Remengesau said in a statement.
He said Bradley had more than 25 years of prosecution experience and had never been found to have violated any law or ethical rule over the Morton case.
"The Republic hired Mr. Bradley because our nation needs experienced and skilled prosecutors to help keep our community safe Mr. Bradley fits that bill," he said.
Bradley is expected to start in his new role before Palau hosts the Pacific Islands Forum at the end of this month.