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 Talty in 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, 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.
The 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. 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[update], Eric Lyle Williams is incarcerated in the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections as inmate # 00999598, and is awaiting execution. The U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal from Williams on May 14, 2018.
In March 2018, HarperCollins published a book on the cases written by veteran journalist Kathryn Casey, In Plain Sight: The Kaufman County Prosecutor murders. The first journalist to go inside the prisons to interview Kim and Eric Williams, Casey conducted extensive interviews over a two-year period with both the convicted killers. During those sessions, Eric Williams denied any involvement in the killings and professed his innocence. In contrast, Kim Williams described in detail the events leading up to the murders and recounted the days of the killings. She claimed to regret her actions and acknowledged that she could have stopped her husband by contacting authorities before any of the victims died. Kim Williams filed for divorce while in prison, and it became final in January 2018.
|Wikinews has related news: Trial for Texas lawyer accused of murder enters third day|
- Williams, Eric Lyle, Texas Department of Criminal Justice; retrieved May 14, 2017.
- Emily, Jennifer (2014-12-30). "Wife of convicted Kaufman County killer sentenced to 40 years in prison". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2017-05-14.
- Hoffer, Steven (February 4, 2013). "Mark Hasse Murder: Disputes Emerge Over Slain Kaufman County Prosecutor's Behavior". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
- Koplowitz, Howard. "'Strong Evidence' Eric L. Williams Murdered Texas Prosecutors Mike McClelland, Mark Hasse: Report [PHOTO]". International Business Times. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
- Solis, Susy. "Extra Security At Kaufman County Courthouse". CBS DFW. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
- Emily, Jennifer. "Former Kaufman County DA guilty of second DWI". Dallas News. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
- Lauren D'Avolio, Serge F. Kovaleski and Ethan Bronnerapril, "Charges Set in Killings of Officials in Texas", April 18, 2013, New York Times, at 
- Emily, Jennifer. "Suspect in Kaufman County DA murders waives oral arguments in appeal of case law enforcement cites as motive for killings". Dallas News. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
- Stephens, Marshall. "Eric, Kim Williams could face death penalty if convicted for DA killings". KLTV. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
- "TDCJ Offender Details". offender.tdcj.texas.gov. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Eiserer, Tanya (December 4, 2014). "Jury to deliberate fate of Eric Williams Monday". WFAA.com.
- "Jury selection delayed in Kaufman County murder trial". KHOU. May 21, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.[permanent dead link]
- Profile, State Bar of Texas; accessed August 16, 2018.
- Associated Press (December 17, 2014). "Kaufman County killer Eric Williams sentenced to death". KDFW Fox News.
- "Eric Lyle Williams | Texas Prison Inmates". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Texas Inmates feature, Texas Tribune, at Texas Prison Inmates.
- "Texas Inmate To Die This Week Loses At Court, Parole Board". CBS-TV. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
- "Divorce finalized for couple convicted in Kaufman County murders". inforney.com. Retrieved August 16, 2018.