Earlier this month, the gun used to kill a Kaufman County, Texas prosecutor was found by dive teams in Lake Tawakoni, according to court documents.  The dive teams found two pistols, a black mask, and other evidence.  Prosecutors allege that an investigation has shown that Kim Williams, the wife of suspected gunman Eric Williams (above), a former Justice of the Peace, purchased one of the pistols.  Mark Hasse, a prosecutor, was gunned down as he arrived for work in January of 2013 outside of the Kaufman County Courthouse.  Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McClelland and his wife, Cynthia, were also shot and killed in their home three months later.

Media speculation about the possibility that white supremacists, who were involved in the murder of Colorado Corrections Director Tom Clements, were also involved in the Texas murders, brought the case into the national spotlight.  Investigators, as per procedure, looked heavily at the defendants in the cases the prosecutors were handling, including the Aryan Brotherhood, a prison-based gang.  The investigators were looking at people involved with both the prosecutors’ cases, people who claimed they were wrongfully convicted, and anyone else who may have had a grudge against prosecutors or their jobs.

There was massive media coverage, one headline read:  Who is targeting Texas prosecutors?

A few months before Hasse’s murder, 4 leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood were indicted on charges ranging from murder to drug trafficking, in Texas.  The 18-count indictment accused gang members of being involved in 3 murders of rival gang members, multiple attempted murders (including their own members who refused to following specific orders or who were suspected of cooperating with law enforcement), kidnappings, assaults, and conspiracy to distribute methampthetamine and cocaine.  The indictment also alleged that the group discussed killing a police officer in 2008.  Law enforcement authorities thought at the time that the gang might try to retaliate as 30 more members were arrested.  Hasse’s death came the same days as the first guilty plea was entered in the case.  McClelland was part of a multi-agency task force that investigated the Aryan Brotherhood with the help of the FBI, the DEA, and other police departments.  Detectives declined to say if the gang was the focus of their investigation, but the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a bulletin not long after the deaths of the two prosecutors saying that the group may have issued orders to inflict mass casualties to law enforcement.

However, an expert on the gang, Terry Pelz, said that killing law enforcement is uncharacteristic of the gang.  The gang does have a history of threatening officials, but “they don’t draw heat upon themselves,” for killing officials.  Following the murders and suspicion falling on the gang, law enforcement officers stepped up security at the local courthouses in Texas, including officers who walked around outside the courthouse where Hasse was killed, carrying a semi-automatic weapon.

Over the last 100 years, 14 prosecutors have been killed within the U.S.

Tom Clements was killed when he answered the doorbell at his home in Colorado Springs.  Two days later, Evan Ebel, a white supremacist and former inmate at Clements’ prison, died in a shootout with authorities in Texas.  Before killing Clements, Ebel killed Nathan Leon, a pizza delivery driver by luring him to a truck stop and then used the uniform as a disguise to approach the Clement home.  Authorities have not yet definitively named Ebel as the gunman.  The recent release of a recording found amongst Ebel’s effects indicates that Ebel was not motivated by his white supremacist ties, but instead by his anger over the time he spent in solitary confinement, also called administrative segregation.  Ebel spent about 5 1/2 years in solitary confinement and was released directly from it.

Shortly before McClelland’s death, he told the media that Hasse may have been killed by white supremacists.  However, authorities focused on a disgruntled justice of the peace.  Eric Williams and his wife Kim are now charged with murdering Hasse, McClelland, and his wife.  Prosecutors allege that Williams sought revenge against them after he was convicted by the victims of theft charges, lost his law license, and job as a justice of the peace.

Williams’ capital trial is scheduled to begin on October 20.

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