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2013-04-25

Arrests made in Kaufman County murders new DA takes prosecutorial reins

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Kaufman County is still reeling from the murders of a district attorney and his wife and an assistant district attorney, as well as from the arrests of a former elected official and his wife for the killings.
However, the afternoon of Monday, April 22, Kaufman County Court at Law Judge Erleigh Norville Wiley was sworn in as the new Kaufman County District Attorney at in her office in the courthouse. She did not participate in a press conference after taking the oath of office.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw offered a statement after the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office announced that Eric Lyle Williams, 43, and Kim Lene Williams, 46, had been charged with the murders of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland; his wife, Cynthia; and Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.
"The announcement on Thursday, April 18, underscores the outstanding commitment by our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to aggressively track down and capture those cowards who would commit or contemplate such heinous acts," McCraw said. "Because these despicable acts undermine the rule of law, we consider an attack on a public servant to be an attack on all Texans."
McCraw noted that numerous law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, including the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Rangers, worked in tandem during the investigation. "The agencies have committed an extraordinary level of investigative resources to collect and analyze evidence, pursue leads, and identify the suspects now charged with carrying out the senseless and tragic murders of three innocent and brave Texans."
The Williams have been charged with capital murder in the slayings. In 2012, Eric Williams, a former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace, was convicted of stealing three county-owned computers. Hasse and McLelland prosecuted him.
Eric Williams is currently appealing the verdict, which now seems to be the least of his worries.
On April 17, Kim Williams signed a sworn affidavit stating that she had participated in the murders of Hasse and the McLellands. According to the affidavit, Kim Williams reportedly drove the getaway car after Hasse was slain. She was also present in the vehicle during the murders of the McLellands. Offering details of the crime that had not been made public, Kim Williams fingered her husband, Eric, as the hit man.
During the investigation of the three murders, it was revealed that Eric Williams had blamed Hasse and McLelland for his removal from office. Eric Williams was suspended from his judicial duties after being indicted for burglary of a building and theft by a public servant. After his conviction, he was removed from public office.
According to Sgt. Matt Woodall of the KCSO, Hasse and McLelland regularly carried handguns after the Eric Williams' trial because both attorneys believed he was a threat to their personal safety.
At approximately 8:38 pm, on Jan. 31, the assistant district attorney was shot and killed in an employee parking lot about a block from the Kaufman County Courthouse. Hasse had been shot at close range multiple times with a handgun.
The evening of March 30, the bodies of McLelland and his wife were discovered in their home. Both had also been shot multiple times. Investigators believe the murders occurred at 6:40 am.
They also discovered that Eric Williams had engaged in Lexis Nexis searches centering on Hasse and McLelland, which appeared to indicate a "pre-offense surveillance of the victim(s)."
A search of Eric Williams' residence turned up firearms similar to those that might have been used in the three murders, according to an affidavit.
On April 13, investigators learned that Eric Williams had rented a storage unit in Seagoville in December 1012. During a search of the storage unit, investigators found a white Crown Victoria similar to one that had been reported as being recorded on security video in the McLelland neighborhood on the date of the couple's murders.
Additionally, investigators learned that in unsigned emails sent after the McLelland and Hasse murders, the author confessed to the murders and threatened future violence agains Kaufman County officials. These emails allegedly originated from the IP address in Eric Williams home.
Kim Williams remains incarcerated in the Kaufman County Jail under $10 million bond. Eric Williams, who was arrested Saturday, April 13, for allegedly making terroristic threats, has also been charged with capital murder. His bond has also been set at $10 million bond.
Concluding his remarks on the arrests, McCraw said, "We have confidence that justice will be served in these cases, and our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia, Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, and the entire Kaufman County community."

Pictured: Photos courtesy of Kaufman County Sheriff's Office
Eric Williams and Kim Williams