Kaufman County murders
The Kaufman County murders refer to a series of events involving the murder of two prosecutors and a prosecutor's wife in Kaufman County, Texas, in 2013. The case gained national attention in the United States due to increasing speculation that the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang was responsible.
Eric Lyle Williams, a former lawyer whose theft case was prosecuted by the two victims, was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death for the three murders. His wife, Kimberly Irene "Kim" Williams, was tried separately, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
On January 31, 2013, Mark Hasse was shot and killed while walking in the 100 block of East Grove Street in Kaufman, Texas. Hasse was the Chief Assistant District Attorney for the Kaufman County Criminal District Attorney's Office. He was walking from his car to the courthouse when a gunman shot him repeatedly and then fled the area in a waiting car.
Hasse, 57, had been an attorney for many years and had previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in Dallas County under famed District Attorney Henry Wade. He had worked for Kaufman County since 2010 as a prosecutor, and was also a licensed police officer commissioned with the District Attorney's office.
A large manhunt was conducted by several law enforcement agencies including the Kaufman Police Department, the Kaufman County Sheriff, several Kaufman County Constable's Offices, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
During the course of the investigation, a number of leads were followed, and news of the investigation captured headlines across the nation. Most hypotheses involved allegations that the Aryan Brotherhood, a prison gang, had been responsible for the murder.
On March 30, 2013, the bodies of Kaufman County Criminal District Attorney Michael "Mike" McLelland, 63, and his wife Cynthia, 65, were found in their home located in the Talty Community of rural Kaufman County. Both had been shot and killed in what was described as a home invasion-type assault on their property.
McLelland had been elected to his office in 2010 and was widely viewed as an excellent replacement for the previous District Attorney, who had been arrested for driving under the influence while in office. Mike McLelland was an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve for 23 years, while Cynthia McLelland was a well-respected nurse at Terrell State Hospital, a mental health facility for the state.
Following the McLelland murders, numerous elected officials in the county were placed under protection by law enforcement officers at home and at work. Security was visibly increased at the Kaufman County Courthouse.
Arrests and trial
On April 18, 2013, Eric Lyle Williams and his wife Kim Lene Williams were arrested for all three murders. Eric Williams, a former attorney and Justice of the Peace for Kaufman County, had been convicted of burglary and theft while in office, and had been prosecuted by McLelland and Hasse. Williams was out of jail on probation at the time of the murders.
Williams was found guilty of capital murder (death) at his trial in Rockwall County on December 4, 2014. His trial was moved out of Kaufman County, as his defense lawyers cited media coverage and its interference of a fair trial as reasons for change of venue. Williams' estranged wife was held at the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center in lieu of a $10 million bond.
Eric Williams' license to practice law was suspended on October 10, 2012, and was permanently revoked when he was disbarred on February 3, 2014.
He was sentenced on December 17, 2014 to die by lethal injection. As of January 2018, Eric Lyle Williams is incarcerated in the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections as inmate # 00999598, and is awaiting execution.
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