Posted on April 17, 2013

Disgraced Justice of the Peace Is Named the Prime Suspect in Killing of Two Texas Prosecutors

Daily Mail (London), April 14, 2013

The man being named as the prime suspect in the murders of a Texas district attorney, his wife and an assistant prosecutor has a history of threatening the people around him, court documents reveal.

Eric Williams, 46, threatened his ex-girlfriend and her son with a gun when he saw her at a conference after the two had been separated for years. She spent the rest of the night with a police officer stationed at her door, she said.

Eric Williams

Eric Williams

He also reportedly threatened to kill an attorney’s family, burn down his house and stab him to death when the lawyer changed the date for a court hearing, according to testimony.

Williams was booked into Kaufman County Jail early Saturday morning for making terroristic threats. He is being held on a $3million bond.

Authorities say he is a suspect in the shootings last month of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, – and the murder of assistant district attorney Mark Hasse in late January.

Sources tell CBS11 that he will be charged with capital murder in the deaths of Mr and Mrs McLelland and the assistant attorney.

Williams had previously been successfully prosecuted by the murdered officials.

Police reportedly zeroed in on Williams after several emails making threats to other county officials were linked to him.

Those threats, though, were not his first.

Williams, who served as a justice of the peace, handling-low-level legal cases in Kaufman County,  has been prosecuted by McClelland and Hasse on charges that he stole three computer monitors from the courthouse and misused law library funds.

During sentencing, an ex-girlfriend testified that he had threatened her and frightened her so badly that a police officer stood guard outside her door for the rest of the night.

Janice Gray, who dated Williams in the 1990s, said the incident started at a conference for court officials, where the two saw each other for the first time after breaking up. After she turned down his invitation to go out to eat, he told her ‘he had something he wanted to give my son,’ Gray testified.

‘And then he showed me a gun he had and said he had gotten this new gun,’ she said.

The next night, Gray said she was at a sports bar with some friends when he showed up, uninvited.

‘He told me he had a gun in his bag, and if I turned around and walked away, he wouldn’t – he would use it ’cause he didn’t have anything to lose,’ Gray said.

Prosecutors also brought up an incident in 2010, when Williams reportedly became irate when he learned that an attorney on an arbitration case he was handling had canceled a hearing.

‘First thing I heard was Eric say, “I’m going to kill him,”‘ attorney Dennis Jones, a  testified, according to the Dallas Morning News. ‘”I’m going to kill him, his wife, his kids. I’m gonna burn his house down. I’m gonna stab him.”‘

Despite this, Mr Jones and the man Williams threatened to kill both testified that they thought his words were harmless and that he never would have hurt anyone.

Williams’ wife, Kim, told the paper: ‘I’m really tired. I was up almost all night. I’m not ready to talk.’

A neighbor told the Dallas Morning News that he knew Williams to be a ‘nice guy’ who was known in the neighborhood for riding around town in his Segway.

Williams was convicted in March 2012 by the district attorney’s office of burglary of a building and theft by a public servant, the station reported.

Surveillance cameras caught Williams taking computer equipment from a county building. As part of his appeal, Williams claimed McClelland and Hasse didn’t like him.

He was sentenced to two months of probation and lost his justice of the peace position as a result of the conviction.

Federal and local authorities searched Williams’ home Friday as part of an investigation into the McLellands’ deaths.

Williams’ attorney, David Sergi, released a statement at the time, saying his client ‘has cooperated with law enforcement and vigorously denies any and all allegations.’

‘He wishes simply to get on with his life and hopes that the perpetrators are brought to justice,’ Sergi said.

Earlier this month, Williams said he voluntarily submitted to a gun residue test and turned over his cellphone after authorities contacted him while investigating the deaths of the McLellands.

Authorities have released little information about the case except to say they continue to follow leads, including possible ties to a white supremacist gang.

One month before Hasse’s death, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a warning to authorities statewide that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas could retaliate for an October indictment that targeted some of its leaders.

McLelland’s office was involved in that investigation.

Earlier this month, a speaker had drawn applause from mourners at the McLelland’s funeral, when he said of their killers: ‘Chase ’em down. Go get ’em. Bring ’em to justice… Take them out of the hole they come from.’

Chris Heisler made the remarks as he led an emotional memorial service on April 4 for the couple who had been murdered at their Texas home near Forney on March 31.

Loved ones remembered the couple’s love, warmth and public service. Dozens of law enforcement officers and public officials, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, were among the hundreds who attended the service.

Friends reportedly found the bodies of the DA and his wife after going to their home on March 31, having not heard from them in almost 24 hours. They were found with multiple gunshot wounds.

At their funeral service on April 4, Mr and Mrs McLelland shared a single, flag-draped casket inside the suburban church.

Mrs McLelland had been cremated and an urn with her remains was placed inside her husband’s coffin.

McLelland had addressed many of the same people two months earlier, after the slaying of Mark Hasse, one of his prosecutors. Hasse was gunned down near the Kaufman County courthouse while going to work.

The deaths were feared to be planned attacks by violent white supremacist gang, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

McLelland in particular was pivotal in the prosecution of a senior member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas last year who received two life terms following a shoot out.

In the months after Hasse was killed, McLelland began to carry a gun everywhere and took extra caution when answering his door.

He told The Associated Press in an interview shortly before his death that he was warning his employees that they needed to be more cautious as well.

‘The people in my line of work are going to have to get better at it,’ he said of dealing with the danger, ‘because they’re going to need it more in the future’.