Eric Williams Update: Death penalty sought for ex-justice of the peace charged in 3 Texas killings

Kim Lene Williams and Eric Lyle Williams in mugshots released by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office. Kim Williams was arrested April 17, 2013 in connection with the murders of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife, Cynthia, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Haase.
Kaufman County Sheriff's Office
Eric Lyle Williams, Kim Lene Williams mugshots
Kaufman County Sheriff's Office

(CBS) KAUFMAN COUNTY, Texas - The death penalty will be sought against Eric Williams, a disgraced Texas justice of the peace accused of murdering a district attorney, his wife and a top prosecutor in Kaufman County, CBS affiliate KHOU reports.

 Williams and his wife Kim were indicted late last month on a pair of capital murder charges in the brazen killings of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia, and Assistant DA Mark Hasse. The state announced it would pursue the death penalty against Williams in a Friday morning hearing that lasted about five minutes in a Kaufman County courtroom, according to the station.

Kim Williams, who has filed for divorce, also appeared in court and acknowledged the charges against her. The state has not determined whether it will seek the death penalty in her case. That decision will reportedly come next week.

Dallas County Judge Michael Snipes, who was appointed to hear the case, tentatively set jury selection in Eric Williams' trial for the spring of 2014. The trial is scheduled to begin in October 2014.

County Judge Bruce Wood told KHOU he wants the trial held in Kaufman. The defense will seek a change of venue, arguing that the Williamses will not be able to get a fair trial in the county.

"I would find it hard to believe that a fair and impartial jury could not be empaneled," Wood said.

The Williamses, both 46, have been in custody at the Kaufman County jail since their arrests in April. Eric Williams is jailed on $23 million bond while Kim Williams is held on $10 million bond.

Investigators say the couple planned the assassination-style murders following Eric Williams' conviction in 2012 for stealing county computer equipment from the IT department. After he was found guilty, Williams lost his law license and his job.

On Jan. 31, Hasse was gunned down on his way into the Kaufman County Courthouse spurring a months-long search for those responsible. Nearly two months later, the McLellands were found shot dead inside their Forney home.

According to affidavits unsealed after Eric Williams was arrested, McLelland and Hasse both feared for their safety and began carrying guns after convicting Williams. Following Hasse's murder, Judge Wood said that the district attorney expressed concern that Williams was behind the fatal shooting.

Investigators say they also found weapons that fire similar caliber bullets to what was used in each murder at a storage locker Eric Williams was seen using and at the couple's household. Williams is also accused of using the county's Lexis/Nexis account to research driver's license records and address information belonging to those he is accused of killing.

Williams and his wife were indicted on capital murder charges June 27.

Complete coverage of the Eric Williams case on Crimesider