The Kaufman County Murders

On January 31, 2013, Kaufman County Texas Chief Assistant District Attorney, Mark Hasse was gunned down just outside his car as he was making his way into the county courthouse for work at close to 8 in the morning.  Witnesses had seen a man in black clothing with a mask commit the crime.  After shooting Hasse several times, the gunman took off and headed towards his "getaway car."  One witness followed the car in an attempt to get a license plate number but there was not one to get.

Seeing as the victim was a prosecutor in the county the suspects could have been endless. Any one of the many people Hasse had prosecuted in his nearly three years in Kaufman County, or the years prior where he served in other counties could have held a grudge against him.  They knew they should start looking close to home but they also knew that there had been several prosecutions involving people in the prison gang of the Aryan Brotherhood.  Because of this connection the crime almost took on a national importance.

One of the first people that were looked at locally was a man by the name of Eric Williams. When investigators went to his door he an arm sling, claiming he had recently had shoulder surgery.  This would have been visible to the witnesses who saw the shooting and that had not been reported so it seemed that Eric was cleared.  But, why were they there in the first place?  It was well known that Eric Williams was not a fan of Mark Hasse's or his boss, Michael McLelland. Williams had been an attorney and had worked as a Justice of the Peace in the county until he was found guilty of theft in 2012.  Hasse and McLelland had led the charge in having Williams investigated when at least three computer monitors belonging to the county came up missing and were in Williams' possession.  His license to practice law was suspended in October of 2012.  At the time of Hasse's murder Williams was still on probation for the theft charges.

Lead District Attorney, Michael McLelland held a press conference after Mark Hasse was murdered vowing to find the perpetrator.  McLelland was not given long to finish that task because less than two months later, on March 20th, both Michael McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot to death in their home.  Cynthia was a nurse in a mental health hospital which theoretically also could have put her life at risk from disgruntled patients but the fact that her husband was the DA and one of his deputies had recently been murdered told investigators that Mike, not Cynthia was the target.

At this point elected officials in the county and surrounding areas were on heightened alert. The local law enforcement started providing them with extra protection both at their homes and work.  Security at the county courthouse was significantly raised.  I have seen television shows in which other officials were interviewed and stated they had told their families that unless they knew it was them entering their home to shoot on sight.

Investigators went back and started again and everything just kept leading them back to Eric Williams.  They did a little more digging and learned that Williams had not had shoulder surgery as they had been told after Hasse was murdered. That definitely raised some suspicion.  Then they got a tip.  A friend of Eric Williams called authorities and said that several months prior Eric had asked him to rent a storage unit in his name.  Eric paid the bill and the friend apparently never asked why he needed, or wanted it in his name.  Authorities found their way to the storage unit and inside they found over thirty guns, ammo, police gear and even a car.  

On April 16th investigators talked to Kimberly Williams, Eric's wife.  At this time Eric was in jail for making what was described as terroristic threats unrelated to the murders.  It was then that Kimberly Williams began talking.  Two days later both she and Eric would be arrested and charged the murders of Mark Hasse and Michael and Cynthia McLelland.

In November of 2014 Eric Williams went on trial for the murder of Cynthia McLelland.  To this day, while he apparently has remained charged in the deaths of the two men, he has not faced trial and considering the outcome of his trial for Cynthia I am uncertain that he ever will. 

There was a lot of evidence against Eric Williams, or so the prosecutors, and later a jury would say.  First, it seems that Eric Williams was none too shy at expressing his dismay at the two men.  He felt because of their actions he had lost his career and livelihood.  Now, while my research did not uncover a lot of information about the theft trial, as I recall from documentaries I have seen on the case Williams had attempted to secure a deal in which would have saved his career but neither Hasse or McLelland seemed receptive to that idea. Then there were the searches found on the Williams' home computer and in his home. There had been searches done on the victims as well as an email (or document) on the computer that confessed to the crimes and threatened more violence against officials. Inside the home they had found multiple cell phones, tactical boots and a mask.  The latter two items were said to described by the witnesses of Hasse's murder as being worn.  A surveillance video of the storage unit showed a car leaving and returning at the time of each of the murders, or before and after them I should say.  Inside the unit they determined that many of the guns and ammo were of the same caliber used in the murders.  But, the biggest thing against Eric Williams was Eric Williams' wife, Kimberly.

Kimberly would testify that she had helped plan and carry out the murders with him.  She would claim to be the getaway driver in the incidents while he pulled the trigger in all three cases.  She would go on to say that she had helped him get rid of the weapons after the McLelland's were killed in their home.  

A jury found Eric Williams guilty in the murder of Cynthia McLelland on December 4, 2014. Kimberly would testify once again at his sentencing hearing on December 17th.  It was here that she would testify that after the murders of the McLelland the mood was "happy" and that they had celebrated by having steaks for dinner that night.  She would also claim that Eric had plans to kill at least two more people, the DA who had taken over after Michael McLelland's murder and a retired judge.  The jury would retire to deliberate the sentence and return with a recommendation of death.  Eric Williams currently sits on Death Row in Texas.

Kimberly Williams would later be sentenced to forty years for the roll that she played in the deaths.  The Texas Department of Corrections website does not have an "earliest" possible release date as some states do and only shows her maximum sentence date of April of 2053.  After her sentencing Eric Williams' sister spoke out.  She was apparently quick to say that she did not want to believe that her brother was guilty but stated that if he was, he had not acted alone and she felt if her brother was sentenced to death then so should have Kimberly.  

I am unsure just what position Eric Williams has taken in this case.  I am unsure if he has accepted his fate, or if he is still proclaiming his innocence.  It seems the state of Texas seems fairly secure in their conviction in this case and I have found nothing to indicate they plan to try him for the murders of Mark Hasse or Michael McLelland despite the fact they know he is responsible.  It seems they got testimony of Mark Hasse's murder into the trial that was conducted and while there is not a conviction against him for those two deaths the state can only kill you once. 

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