Arrests Made In Deaths Of Texas DA, His Wife And Prosecutor
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And now to Texas, where murder charges were filed today in connection with three shooting deaths. The case involves the killing of the district attorney, his wife and another prosecutor from Kaufman County, that's east of Dallas.
The wife of a former justice of the peace, Kim Williams, now faces three counts of murder. According to an affidavit, she has admitted to taking part in the killings, but that affidavit also says Kim Williams told investigators it was her husband, Eric Williams, who pulled the trigger. And he is already in jail charged with making threats related to the case. NPR's Wade Goodwyn joins us from Dallas.
And, Wade, why don't you back up and start from the beginning with the first killing - this was the Kaufman County prosecutor, who was shot and killed in January, and then two months later, there was the murder of the district attorney and his wife.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Right. It started January 31st outside the Kaufman County courthouse, a little after 8:30 in the morning. Mark Hasse, who was the assistant district attorney, got out of his car. He was walking toward the courthouse when someone walked up to him and shot him dead, shot him multiple times.
And this was at a time of day when there are often many armed law enforcement personnel going in and out of the courthouse. It was astonishingly brazen, and it shook everybody up in Kaufman County, especially law enforcement. Then the real shocker. Two months later, the district attorney himself, Mike McLelland, and his wife were murdered in their home, dead of multiple gun shots.
BLOCK: Well, as this story has developed, Wade, there is a lot of speculation about a prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, who might have been responsible, also speculation that Mexican drug cartels might have been involved. It now appears, if these charges hold, that the case would have been confined right there in Kaufman County.
GOODWYN: That's right. Eric Williams was a Kaufman County justice of the peace. But he was caught on videotape and then convicted of stealing three county computer monitors on a Sunday morning when nobody was around. It's sick to think that's what this is all about.
Anyway, Williams ended up getting probation, but he lost his law license and peace officer license, and he lost his job and livelihood. And he blamed his prosecutors, Hasse and McLelland. And, according to Williams' wife's confession, they decided to take their bloody revenge.
BLOCK: So now Kaufman County authorities have arrested the wife, Kim Williams. She's apparently confessed to participating in the murders. And, as we mentioned, she says it was her husband who was the shooter.
GOODWYN: Yes. Kim Williams has confessed. She and her husband murdered Mark Hasse and the McLellands. They're both in custody. You know, one of the more confusing aspects of the McLellands' murder was how the killers gained entrance to their home.
According to the county judge, Bruce Wood, the DA had told him and others after Hasse had been murdered that he suspected Eric Williams had done it. So the sheriff put a car in front of the McLellands' house for protection, and it stayed there a full two months. But the killers waited until that protection detail ended and then made their move.
Mike McLelland was so worried that he was next that he'd placed loaded guns in strategic positions all around his house and carried arms when he took the dog for a walk. Yet, he was caught by surprise and shot down in his pajamas.
BLOCK: Well, let me ask you this, Wade. Apart from the alleged confession from Kim Williams, is there any other evidence that you know of that's been collected in this case that would point to who is responsible?
GOODWYN: Yes. One of the big breaks in the case came when investigators discovered evidence - we don't know what yet - that led them to a sizeable storage facility in Seagoville. And there, they found nearly two dozen weapons, as well as a car similar to the one seen leaving the McLellands' neighborhood. Allegedly, Eric Williams had an acquaintance rent the storage unit so it couldn't be traced back to him, but that didn't work.
BLOCK: OK. NPR's Wade Goodwyn in Dallas. Wade, thank you.
GOODWYN: It's my pleasure.
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