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Former Texas Justice of the Peace Charged in Two Murders
Former justice of the peace Eric Williams was charged on Thursday in the killings of two Texas officers who prosecuted his case, a week after his arrest for making anonymous threats to police officers investigating the case.
It was a swift conclusion to one of the most troubling cases of violence against law enforcement officials in Texas history. Eric Williams was booked on charges of capital murder in the revenge killings of the two district attorneys who prosecuted his 2011 theft case. In that trial, Mr. Williams was convicted of stealing county property and removed from his position as a justice of the peace. Kaufman County investigators now point to his 2011 burglary conviction as the primary motivation behind the murders of the two district attorneys involved in his case.
At the time that the charges of capital murder were brought against him, Mr. Williams had already been charged with making threats from his computer against the officers investigating the McLelland murder case. Mr. Williams’ wife, Kim Williams, was also charged with murder on Wednesday. It was her cooperation with law enforcement officers that resulted in the murder charges of her husband. She confessed to being the getaway driver in the killing of Hasse and a passenger and bystander in the McLellands’ murders.
For residents of Kaufman County, the arrests brought stark relief to a community that has been deeply affected by the murders of two legal enforcement officers over the course of three months. Mark Hasse, the Kaufman County assistant district attorney, was killed in January. Last month, District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia McLelland, were also killed at their home.
The Texas Rangers, the state’s legal enforcement agency, strongly condemned the murders. “The murder of a public official, such as a judge, a prosecutor, or a law-enforcement officer, is an assault on all the people of the state, because it’s an attack of the rule of law,” said Texas Ranger Chief Kirby Dendy, in a statement to the press.
The attorney representing Eric Williams released a statement on Friday denying all charges and announcing Mr. Williams’ cooperation with law enforcement officers. Mr. Williams’ bail has been set at $23 million dollars.
Image Credit: Kaufman County Sheriff’s OfficeFormer Texas Justice of the Peace Charged in Two Murders by Andrew Ostler