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Kaufman Co. Murder Trial Underway

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*This is a developing story. Follow 1080 KRLD, CBS 11 News, and refresh this page for the latest updates. On Twitter follow our reporters in the court: @cbs11Jack, @cbs11Arezow, @lpphillips 

ROCKWALL (CBSDFW.COM) - The capital murder trial of former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric Williams got underway on Monday morning in Rockwall County.

Williams is accused of killing District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia, and assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse last year.

Jury selection took about seven weeks after the high-profile trial was moved to Rockwall County from Kaufman County.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.


Prosecutors will argue that Williams was seeking revenge after Hasse and McLelland prosecuted Williams for stealing county equipment.

Kim Williams, the now estranged wife of Eric Williams, is expected to take the stand. Authorities believe she played a major role in the slayings and will be testifying against him.

Kim Williams also faces capital murder charges, though no trial date has been set.


Update: 4:30pm

After Cole, jurors heard from Roger Williams, once a friend of Eric Williams after they met while both were members of the Texas State Guard. They are not related.

Williams testified that in late 2012 Eric Williams asked him for help in getting a storage shed.

"He said that it was for his in-laws" to store furniture.

But Eric Williams "didn't want to put his name" on the contract, Roger Williams said he was told, because he feared his previous theft conviction would give police a reason to search it if they wanted to.

Roger Williams said he believed his friend and rented a storage unit in Seagoville, in his name and using more than $1,000 in cash that Eric Williams had given him in an envelope.

Williams said he never suspected any wrongdoing until he learned of Eric Williams' arrest on April 12, 2013. At that time, he notified police about the storage shed, where investigators say guns, ammunition and the Crown Vic were subsequently recovered.

In the courtroom, Roger Williams was asked whether he now felt duped by a friend. Responding quickly, he said: "absolutely."

Update: 3:45pm

Investigators have speculated the McLellands willingly opened their door after seeing the Crown Vic outside, and, believing the person at the door was one of the sheriff deputies who had guarded their house after the killing of the Hasse.

There was a moment of levity in the courtroom after a prosecutor asked Cole to describe the Crown Vic, including the location of the center console.

Cole answered: "As I recall, it was in the center."

Update: 3:20pm

The sixth witness, Edward Cole, testified that he lived in North Fort Worth in February 2013 when he sold a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria to a man identifying himself as "Richard Greene."

Authorities say the buyer was actually Williams, using an alias, and that the Crown Vic - looking similar to a police car - was later used in the killings of the McLellands.

Asked to identify the man he knew as Greene, Cole pointed to Williams and said, "That gentleman over there."

Update: 1:59 pm

Cynthia McLelland received eight gunshot wounds, including a fatal one to the head that lacerated the brain, according to Dr. William McClain, with the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office.

McClain, the fourth witness to take the stand, performed the autopsy on Mrs. McLelland.

Update: 11:45am

Texas Ranger Rudy Flores showed crime scene pictures to the jury - pictures that Judge Snipes warned ahead of time would be "grim."


The photos, which included those taken of the bodies of Mike and Cynthia McLelland, we're not shown on two large TV screens in the courtroom, out of respect for the relatives and friends who were in attendance.

Instead, they were placed on a large stand that faced only the jury box, and away from the rest of the courtroom.

Some jurors squirmed in their seats, and one bit at his fingernails, as the photos were displayed.

In the audience, Mike McLelland's elderly mother sat stooped in a chair, putting her hand to her face while Ranger Flores described her son's blood pattern to the jury.

The DA's son sat next to her, his arm wrapped around her shoulders.

Update: 10:50am

Charles Tomlinson, a Dallas police officer and family friend of the McLellands, described being with his parents when they found their friends dead.

Tomlinson said his mother was the first to see something wrong when they entered the McLellands' unlocked home.

"My mom immediately fell to the ground and started crying"" when she saw spent bullet casings on the floor, Tomlinson told the jury.

He said he stepped several feet further into the house and saw Cynthia McLelland.

"She was just lying on the ground in dry blood, coagulated blood," Tomlinson said.

He went to get his gun from his Jeep, while his father continued to search the house, soon finding the fallen DA.

"He met me at the door and said, 'They're dead.' There was nothing that could be done for them at that point," Tomlinson told the jury.

Update: 9:50 am

Williams, a former Kaufman County justice of the peace, is accused of shooting to death chief prosecutor Mark Hasse on Jan. 31, 2013, near the courthouse lawn in Kaufman.

He is also charged with murdering District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia at their home on that following Easter weekend.

Authorities say Williams was playing out a murderous grudge against Mike McLelland and Hasse for prosecuting him for petty theft of computer equipment.

In his opening statement to the jury, prosecutor Bill Wirskye said Williams, before his arrest, sent an "anonymous email confession" to investigators, "thinking he would remain anonymous."

"This man committed the murders," Wirskye said, his voice rising, as he pointed to Williams.

The defendant sat quietly, his head resting in his hands at the defense table.

The trial that started today is for the deaths of the McLellands at their Forney home.

Wirskye said Williams first gunned down Cynthia McLelland in a "blizzard of bullets."

The prosecutor said Williams then turned the gun on the DA. When Mike McLelland dropped to the floor, Wirskye said, Williams stood over him and continued "pumping rounds of lead ...into the body."

Wirksye told the jury he feels confident they will ultimately convict Williams, saying, "It's an airtight case, folks."

Update: 9:15 am

The jury that will decide the fate of murder suspect Eric Williams entered the courtroom at 8:45 a.m. today and was soon asked whether they'd seen a certain television show.

Judge Mike Snipes told the jury the show, Criminal Minds, made "reference to this case, unfortunately."

Snipes dismissed the jury and then called each juror back individually to ask if they'd watched the show, or had talked to anyone who had.

The exercise was an effort to determine whether any of the jurors had been prejudiced by anything they had seen or read in the media about the case, in which Williams is charged with murdering a Kaufman County district attorney, the DA's wife and the DA's chief prosecutor.

For each juror who came in, Snipes asked: "Do you believe you can be a fair and impartial juror in this case."

"Yes," each juror answered.

*This is a developing story. Follow 1080 KRLD, CBS 11 News, and refresh this page for the latest updates.

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