Ex-justice of the peace charged in Texas slayings

CNN
Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 2:01pm

KAUFMAN COUNTY, TX (CNN) —  [Breaking news update 2:42 p.m.: Former Justice of the Peace Eric Williams has been formally charged with capital murder in the killings of two prosecutors and the wife of one of them, officials told reporters Thursday.]

(CNN) -- There was no shortage of speculation surrounding the killings of two prosecutors and the wife of one of them in Kaufman County, Texas, but the first hints of clarity are only now emerging.

On Wednesday, the wife of a former Kaufman County justice of the peace was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the killings, which rocked the Texas county.

Kim Lene Williams, 46, is charged with killing Kaufman County District Attorney Michael McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, and also is charged in the death of prosecutor Mark Hasse.

The motives behind the slayings may be further clarified Thursday afternoon, when Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes is scheduled to address reporters at a news conference.

Williams is in jail, with bail set at $10 million. She was booked about 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Kaufman County jail website.

The McLellands were killed in March, and Hasse was killed in January.

She confessed in detail to her involvement in the scheme and said her husband, Eric Williams, was also involved, according the warrant for her arrest.

The warrant said she "intentionally and knowingly" caused the deaths and accused her husband of being the trigger man.

McLelland and Hasse prosecuted Eric Williams on charges of felony burglary and theft by a public servant last year, according to the warrant. He was removed as a justice of the peace, an elected office, after he was convicted in March 2012, it said.

Kaufman County Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Woodall wrote in an affidavit filed with the warrant that he "learned from other officers of the county and county employees that Mr. Hasse and Mr. McLelland both believed that Eric Williams blamed them for his removal from office."

The prosecutors carried handguns for their protection after the Williams trial "because they believed Eric Williams to be a threat to their personal safety," Woodall wrote.

Eric Williams was arrested last week on a count of making a terroristic threat. A sheriff's affidavit accused him of using his home computer to threaten police investigating the McLellands' killings.

Eric Williams' attorney released a statement Friday saying he "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."

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