The state is seeking the death penalty for former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric Williams, who is accused of capital murder in the deaths of a Kaufman County assistant prosecutor as well as the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife. No decision has been made on whether or not to seek the death penalty for Williams’ wife, Kim.

“At this point in time, everything is in the preliminary stage, and we don’t have any decisions made. We will be making those decisions once they decide how they will proceed on Eric’s case,” said Paul Johnson, Kim Williams’ attorney.

The families of the victims of the slayings declined to comment, but new Kaufman County District Attorney, Erleigh Norville Wiley, said they are doing considerably well.  Jury selection will begin by next spring. A trial would begin in October 2014. Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood says he hopes to seat a jury and hold the trial in Kaufman County.  Woods said he is not sure he will ever have the closure he needs.  Mike Snipes, a judge from Dallas, will preside over the trial.

“They are evil people to do what they have been accused of doing, assuming they are…guilty…I’m sure they will be punished for their actions,” Wood said.

Eric Williams was arrested on a terroristic threat charge after investigators discovered evidence he had made threats via electronic communication against Kaufman County officials shortly after Mike and Cynthia McLelland were killed.  The capital murder charge against Eric Williams came one day after his wife, 46-year-old Kim Williams, was arrested and charged with capital murder.  In an interview with police, Kim Williams gave investigators details about the murders.  Kim Williams told police that her husband, Eric Williams was involved.  According to officials, Eric Williams was the triggerman and Kim Williams drove in the Hasse murder and was a passenger in the McLellands’ murders.  Mike and Cynthia McLelland were found shot to death in their Forney home on March 30, two months after Mark Hasse was gunned down while walking to the Kaufman County Courthouse on January 31.  In March 2012, Eric Williams was prosecuted by the Kaufman County district attorney’s office for stealing equipment from Kaufman County. He was convicted and was removed from office.  Authorities said in arrest affidavits and in a Thursday press conference that they believe Williams’ legal problems with the county may have led the couple to commit the crime.

“I don’t know that I could assess the motive…” said Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes.

Eric Williams’ arrest affidavit says that in searching his home and his in-law’s home on April 12, investigators found numerous weapons, including rifles and revolvers that matched the calibers believed to kill the McLellands and Mark Hasse.  According to the arrest affidavit, Hasse’s autopsy results revealed he was shot multiple times, “with what appeared to be a weapon capable of firing a .38 or .357 caliber cartridge and that the weapon used was possibly a Smith and Wesson or Ruger style weapon.” Authorities recovered two .357 caliber handguns from Eric Williams’ in-laws’ home on April 12.  The arrest affidavit also reveals the McLellands were both shot multiple times, and that evidence at the scene suggested they were killed by “a weapon capable of firing a .223 caliber cartridge.” Authorities recovered “some component parts of weapons consistent with an AR-style weapon, capable of firing .223 caliber ammunition like that used in the McLelland murders” during their search of Eric Williams’ home.

Sheriff Byrnes said that finding a storage unit that Eric Williams had rented in Seagoville proved to be the break in the case. The arrest affidavit notes that Williams had purchased a 2004 White Ford Crown Victoria in February 2013 under the alias “Richard Greene.” Williams had parked the Crown Victoria in the unit, which had been seen in security camera footage.  The affidavit says security camera footage near the storage unit shows the Crown Victoria leaving the storage unit shortly before the McLelland murders and returning shortly after the McLelland murders.  In addition to the Crown Victoria, authorities recovered 41 firearms from the storage unit, “including eight .223 caliber weapons, two .38 caliber handguns and one .357 caliber handgun, two .223 ‘lowers’ with no ‘uppers,'” and “ammunition consistent with that used during the Hasse … and McLelland murders.”

The media had originally speculated that the three murders in Texas of two prosecutors and one spouse was linked to the murder of Colorado Department of Corrections director Tom Clements.  A white supremacist and member of the prison gang the 211s, Evan Ebel is believed to have killed Mr. Clements and a pizza man, 27-year-old Nathan Collin Leon.  The media seemed confused by the fact that Ebel was killed in a police chase and shootout in Texas (where the murders of the prosecutors occurred) where he had fled after killing the prison director.  Texas authorities investigated the case in conjunction with Colorado authorities.  Initial reports from Texas officials stopped short of directly linking the Texas shootout with the Colorado murders.  No public statements by police ever linked the Ebel case to the murders of the 2 prosecutors.

Ebel had a criminal record dating back to 2003 with various robbery and weapons charges.  In 2006, he was charged with assaulting a correctional officer.  The police believe that Ebel killed the Denver pizza deliveryman then used the disguise to ring the doorbell of the prison director before killing him on his Monument, Colorado doorstep.  Ebel had just been released after a lengthy prison sentence.  Police later gunned Ebel down after he crashed his car into a semi-truck on a Texas highway during a high-speed chase and shootout.  Colorado authorities had urged the public to be on the lookout for a dark Cadillac or Lincoln seen near Clements’ home.

Ebel was considered brain-dead at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.  The chase and shootout began as a normal traffic stop.  Ebel shot the deputy who had pulled him over.  The chase reached speeds over 100 mph.  Ebel had fired out the window at pursuing police cruisers.  Ebel, reportedly, emerged from the vehicle with his handgun drawn and fired several rounds at the officers.

“He didn’t plan on being taken alive,” said Rex Hoskins, the police chief in Decatur.

In this case, police have arrested James Lohr, 47, also a white supremacist following a brief foot chase.  Lohr was arrested on evasion and three outstanding warrants, but police want to question him about the prison director’s murder.  Police are also seeking Thomas Goulee, 31, for questioning in the murder.  Mr. Clements was known for being hard on and outspoken against white supremacists.  The police are investigating whether the execution-style killing was a “hit”.  “What’s not known is whether this was ordered or a crime of opportunity,” said a Department of Corrections employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  The source said a gang leader in prison, called a “shot caller,” could order a member to kill someone.  Clements was not only tough on prison gangs, he reduced the number of inmates being held in solitary confinement, a practice that has been criticized for increasing recidivism, and reduced recidivism rates.  Clements oversaw the closure of two prisons in the past two years and was making plans for the possible closure of others in response to a drastic drop in the number of inmates.

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