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Former Justice of the Peace Charged Held on $23 Million Bond For 3 Kaufman County Murders

KAUFMAN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) -- After law enforcement began closing in on Eric Williams during the past week, authorities formally charged the former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace with the three murders that made national headlines and put a community on edge.

At a news conference featuring the FBI, Texas Rangers and Kaufman County Sheriff Thursday afternoon, authorities announced Williams is being held on a $23 million dollar bond in the shooting deaths of District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia, and his top assistant, Mark Hasse.

Investigators say his wife, Kim Williams confessed to her role in the crimes and remains on a $10 million bond for the murders.

Sheriff David Byrnes says because these are capital murder charges, the death penalty is an option. Sheriff Byrnes says Mr. Williams shot all three victims, and that Mrs. Williams drove the getaway car in Hasse's murder on January 31 steps from the courthouse.

Byrnes says Mrs. Williams was a passenger in the car after the McLelland's murders at 6:40 Saturday morning, March 30. An arrest affidavit spells out the massive investigation.


The court documents say a break in the case came last Saturday. Investigators say it was one of Eric Williams' friends who served with him in the Texas State Guard who came forward, telling investigators about the storage facility in Seagoville he helped Williams rent last December 28.

Investigators say they found the white Ford Crown Victoria seen in the McLellands' neighborhood on the morning of the murders.

Documents say that same day, video from a surveillance camera at a business near the storage facility shows the same white car leaving the storage facility before the murders, and returning there after the shootings. While at the storage facility, detectives found 41 weapons and ammunition, including those that are consistent with what was used during the three murders.

Documents say investigators found weapons inside Williams' home last Friday when they say Williams granted them permission to search his house. Sheriff Byrnes say Eric Williams has been a potential suspect from the start.  "We talked to him immediately after Mark Hasse's death and after the night of the McLellands' shootings, so he's always been on radar."

During an interview with the CBS-11 I-Team April 3rd, Williams denied any role in the three murders. Investigators tested his hands for gun powder residue, but didn't find any.

Both Hasse and McLelland prosecuted Eric Williams last year and won a conviction against him after accusing him of taking computer equipment from the county.

In a letter to the judge after his conviction, Williams said, "I did not steal anything. I was a licensed attorney and I had a master TCLEOSE license. Why would I sacrifice all of that for two monitors? My passion was to provide Kaufman County with committed professional services..."

Sheriff Byrnes said, "If there was a motive, it was his past legal problems with this county."

The affidavit says  Williams told special prosecutors in the case that he was home at the time of all three murders.

But the documents say when Williams sent an an anonymous threat in an email to county employees, he confessed to the crimes.

Sheriff Byrnes sought to reassure the community that there are no additional murder suspects they're searching for.  "There is no more threat or danger today than there was six months ago in this county."

Eric Williams was initially questioned and tested for gunpowder in relation to the January murder of Hasse. Police again questioned him after the McLellands were killed in March.

Earlier this month, the CBS 11 News I-Team reported that Hasse and McLelland prosecuted and secured a conviction against Williams in 2012 for burglary and theft by a public servant. Surveillance cameras captured Williams taking computer equipment from a county building.

When questioned by CBS 11 News reporter Mireya Villareal, Williams denied any involvement in the murders. "My heart goes out to all the families that have been affected by this tragedy, and especially the people that work at the courthouse," he said.

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