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June 27, 2013

Capital murder indictments handed down in Kaufman prosecutors' deaths

KAUFMAN — By DANNY ROBBINS

Associated Press

KAUFMAN — A former justice of the peace and his wife were indicted on capital murder charges Thursday in the deaths of two North Texas prosecutors who were fatally shot earlier this year, one outside the local courthouse and the other inside his home with his wife.

Eric and Kim Williams were each indicted by a Kaufman County grand jury for the deaths of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, District Attorney Mike McLelland and McLelland’s wife, Cynthia.

The couple was arrested in April for what prosecutors allege was a meticulous plot to avenge Eric Williams’ conviction for stealing three county computer monitors in 2012.

The Williamses, who are both 46, have been in the county jail southeast of Dallas since their arrests. Eric Williams is being held on a $23 million bond, while his wife’s bond is $10 million. Capital murder charges can bring the death penalty in Texas.

Hasse was fatally shot as he walked to work in January, while the McLellands were gunned down in their home two months later.

Authorities allege that Eric Williams was the gunman in both cases. His wife, investigators say, was the driver when her husband shot Hasse on the street outside the county courthouse as he walked to work and that she was a passenger when her husband drove to the McLellands’ home to carry out those killings in March.

The arrest warrants describe a revenge plan in which Eric Williams rented a storage unit in a friend’s name to hide a cache of weapons and a car that authorities said was tied to the McLelland killings.

Authorities said they received emails in which the writer confessed to all three slayings and threatened more violence against county officials. The writer tried to hide his identity but investigators traced the emails to a computer in the Williams’ home, according to a warrant.

Eric Williams practiced law in Kaufman for more than a decade, specializing in family-related cases. He was elected to his judicial post in 2010, but he lost the $53,000-a-year position as well as his law license when he was convicted of stealing the computer monitors.

During the highly contentious trial, McLelland and Hasse portrayed Williams as a dishonest public official with a dangerous streak. At sentencing, they presented evidence indicating that Williams had made death threats against another local attorney and a former girlfriend.

Although the two prosecutors sought prison time for Williams, he ultimately received probation.

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