Man probed in Texas prosecutor deaths charged with crime

Updated April 14, 2013, 1:07 a.m. ET

KAUFMAN, Texas Authorities investigating the death of a Texas district attorney arrested a former justice of the peace and charged him Saturday with making a "terroristic threat" after searching his home.

Eric Williams is seen in this picture provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office. Williams was admitted to the Kaufman County Jail in Kaufman, Texas, April 13, 2013.
Eric Williams
AP Photo/Kaufman County Sheriff's Office

Eric Williams, 46, was admitted to the Kaufman County Jail early Saturday morning, jail records show. Bond was set at $1 million for the terroristic threat charge and at $1 million each for two charges of insufficient bond. A sheriff's office spokesman did not immediately return calls Saturday for more information.

Officials have not named Williams as a suspect in the March 30 shooting deaths of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, or in the late January death of assistant DA Mark Hasse, who was fatally shot as he was leaving work in Kaufman, about 30 miles southeast of Dallas.

But federal and local authorities searched Williams' home Friday as part of an investigation into the McLellands' deaths.

The district attorney's office prosecuted Williams, and he was convicted in March 2012 of burglary of a building and theft by a public servant. Williams, who was sentenced to two months of probation, lost his justice of the peace position as a result of the conviction.

On Friday, CBS News learned authorities executed a search warrant at Williams' home.

CBS News correspondent John Miller spoke to "CBS Evening News" on Saturday about the latest development in the case. "What is going on," he said, "is they shifted their view in this case away from their original theory that it might have been part of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang -- because that prosecutor's office was involved in a case there -- more to individual people who were prosecuted by both of the district attorneys who were murdered.

"And that brought them to Eric Williams, who is an elected justice of the peace, who was then both prosecuted by Mark Hasse, one of the murdered district attorneys, and by Mike McLelland, the D.A. Looking into him, they found out he was somebody who made threats to other people, who had a large collection of guns, and possibly had a grudge. Of course he denies all this."

Miller had previously spoken to Williams a couple of times. "He says he understands why they're looking at him," Miller explained. "that they have to do their jobs, that he has nothing to do with that case, and that he's been cooperative. He says his case was about the political undertows in the county, but he understands what's going on."

Williams' attorney, David Sergi, released a statement Friday saying his client "has cooperated with law enforcement and vigorously denies any and all allegations."

"He wishes simply to get on with his life and hopes that the perpetrators are brought to justice," Sergi said. Sergi did not immediately respond to a phone message left by The Associated Press on Saturday.

Earlier this month, Williams said he voluntarily submitted to a gun residue test after authorities contacted him while investigating the deaths of the McLellands. Sergi has said Williams also submitted to a gun residue test and gave his cellphone to authorities when he was questioned after Hasse's death.

Authorities have released little information about the case except to say they continue to follow leads, including possible ties to a white supremacist gang.

One month before Hasse's death, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a warning to authorities statewide that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas could retaliate for an October indictment that targeted some of its leaders. McLelland's office was involved in that investigation.

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