Eric Lyle Williams faces a charge of capital murder along with his wife,… (Kaufman County Sheriff's…)
A disgraced former justice of the peace and his wife are accused of killing the Texas prosecutors who ended his career.
Eric Lyle Williams, 46, and his wife, Kim Lene Williams, 46, have been charged with capital murder in an apparent revenge plot that shook Kaufman County and sparked fear of an unprecedented attack on the rule of law in Texas.
Suspicion of involvement by Mexican drug cartels and a white-supremacist prison gang faded, as officials believe the couple acted alone in killing Kaufman County Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Hasse outside the county courthouse in late January, and Dist. Atty. Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, in their home on March 30.
Eric Williams did the shooting and Kim Williams did the driving in Hasse's killing, and she waited in the car while her husband killed the McLellands at their home, Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes said Thursday at a news conference.
“It’s kind of mind-boggling to me that someone would go out and shoot three innocent people for any motive," Byrnes said. "It would appear any motive would be from his past legal problems."
The former justice of the peace had been prosecuted by McLelland and Hasse in the theft of three computers. In that case, the prosecutors presented testimony that Williams had made death threats against a former girlfriend and an attorney.
A jury found Williams guilty; he received two years' probation and lost his law license and job.
Byrnes said the case broke open when officials discovered a storage unit containing weapons and a vehicle. Kim Williams confessed to her role and that of her husband, officials said, and a capital murder charge against her followed. (Under Texas law, accomplices can be charged with the same charges as a main perpetrator.)
Eric Williams has been in the Kaufman County jail since Saturday, when officials had arrested him on suspicion of making a "terroristic threat" against investigators from his personal computer the day after the McLellands' deaths. "The threat implied unless law enforcement responded to the demands of the writer, another attack would occur," police said in the affidavit establishing probable cause for his arrest.
“Eric Williams has always been on the radar," Byrnes said. "We talked to him immediately after Mark Hasse’s death and also the night of the McLelland shooting. ... We obviously had arrested Eric before on this other thing, and it’s obviously not pleasant. ... [This was] someone who used to be a reserve officer for me. So it’s very distasteful, to say the least."
Times staff writer John M. Glionna contributed to this report.
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