Ex-Justice of the Peace Eric Williams charged with capital murder in Texas DA slayings

Eric Williams AP Photo/Kaufman County Sheriff's Office

KAUFMAN, Texas A former justice of the peace has been charged with murder in the slayings of a North Texas district attorney and his assistant who prosecuted him for theft, officials announced Thursday.

Eric Lyle Williams, 46, is charged in the shooting deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, last month, and assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse in January, Sheriff David Byrnes announced at a news conference. Williams is being held on $23 million bond.

Williams has been jailed since he was arrested Saturday and charged with making a terroristic threat for allegedly emailing an anonymous threat to law officers one day after the McLellands were found dead.

Kim Lene Williams in a mugshot released by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office.
Kaufman County Sheriff's Office

Williams' wife, Kim Williams, was arrested Wednesday and charged with capital murder in the killings. An arrest affidavit alleges she confessed to taking part in the killings and told investigators her husband was the gunman. The affidavit did not say what Kim Williams' alleged role was in the slayings.

McLelland and Hasse had both participated in the prosecution of Eric Williams last year on charges that he stole three computer monitors from an office building. During closing arguments, the prosecutors presented testimony indicating that Williams had made death threats against a former girlfriend and a local attorney.

A jury found Williams guilty; he received two years' probation, and lost his law license and position as justice of the peace — a judge who handles mostly administrative duties.

Williams has appealed the verdict, and on March 29 — a day before the McLellands' bodies were found — a state appeals court in Dallas agreed to hear oral arguments in the case.

Williams, a former family lawyer, also was an officer with at least 10 different law enforcement agencies in North Texas from 1987 to 2010, according to released Thursday by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. That included a stint as a deputy with the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department.

Williams has said that after the McLellands were found shot dead in their home March 30 and after Hasse was gunned down Jan. 31 near the county courthouse, he submitted to gunshot residue tests and turned over his cellphone to authorities. He denied involvement to CBS Station KTVT earlier this month. "My heart goes out to all the families that have been affected by this tragedy, and especially the people that work in the courthouse," he said.

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation previously said authorities were trying to build a case against Williams in the prosecutors' slayings. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.

The official said ballistics experts were testing at least 20 weapons found in a storage locker under Eric Williams' name at a facility near Dallas. A Ford Crown Victoria similar to one recorded in the McLellands' neighborhood around the time the couple was killed was parked at the storage facility, the official said.

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