KAUFMAN, Texas — A former justice of the peace who was convicted of theft carried out a plot with his wife to kill the men who prosecuted him and ended his judicial career, authorities said Thursday.
Eric Lyle Williams, 46, and his wife, Kim Williams, are charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, last month, and assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse in January, Sheriff David Byrnes announced at a news conference.
Authorities allege Williams was the gunman in the slayings. They say his 46-year-old wife was the getaway driver when her husband allegedly accosted Hasse on the street as he walked into work and fatally shot him. They said she was a passenger in late March when her husband drove to the McLelland home east of Dallas.
Eric Williams is being held on $23 million bond, and his wife is being held on $3 million bond. Online jail records do not indicate attorneys representing the couple.
Eric Williams has been jailed since he was arrested Saturday and charged with making a terroristic threat for allegedly emailing an anonymous threat to law officers one day after the McLellands were found dead.
Kim Williams was arrested Wednesday and charged with capital murder in the killings. An arrest affidavit contends she confessed to the killings and told investigators her husband was the gunman.
“It was basically a collaborative effort between Eric Williams and his wife,” Byrnes said.
The sheriff added that Eric Williams is not speaking with investigators.
McLelland and Hasse had both participated in the prosecution of Eric Williams last year on charges that he stole three computer monitors from an office building. A jury found Williams guilty; he received two years’ probation, and lost his law license and position as justice of the peace – a judge who handles mostly administrative duties.
According to an arrest affidavit, the prosecutors carried handguns after the trial because they thought Williams was a threat to them.
Byrnes said that while Williams “has always been on the radar,” authorities did not have the evidence to tie everything together until this week and had continued to look at all possibilities.
“We didn’t want to get tunnel vision,” Byrnes said.
Williams has appealed the theft verdict, and on March 29 – a day before the McLellands’ bodies were found – a state appeals court in Dallas agreed to hear oral arguments in the case.
Williams, a former family lawyer, was an officer with at least 10 different law enforcement agencies in North Texas from 1987 to 2010, according to records released by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. That included a stint as a deputy with the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department.
Williams previously has said that after the McLellands were found shot dead in their home March 30 and after Hasse was gunned down Jan. 31, he submitted to gunshot residue tests and turned over his cellphone to authorities.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation previously told The Associated Press that ballistics experts were testing at least 20 weapons found in a storage locker under Williams’ name at a facility near Dallas. A Ford Crown Victoria similar to one recorded in the McLellands’ neighborhood around the time the couple was killed was parked at the storage facility, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.