“Never trust a cop” is an aphorism that applies to judges too. The recent assassinations of 2 prosecutors and one wife in Kaufman County, Texas has brought investigators to scrutinize one recently disgraced area justice and arrest his wife for murder. It’s a reminder of how much more ordinary citizens have to fear from their government and officials than the typical criminal element. Having so much more to lose and the power to protect it, government officials are all the deadlier/more dangerous.
By MANNY FERNANDEZ, SERGE F. KOVALESKI and EMMA G. FITZSIMMONS 4-17-13
DALLAS — Investigators in the case of two murdered Texas prosecutors have arrested the wife of a disgraced justice of the peace and charged her with murder, the authorities said on Wednesday.
The wife, Kim Lene Williams, 46, was booked into the Kaufman County jail shortly before 3 a.m. on Wednesday, according to county jail records. She was charged with capital murder, according to law enforcement officials involved in the investigation. It was not immediately clear which murder or murders she was charged with.
The authorities have recently focused on her husband, Eric Lyle Williams, who was convicted last year of stealing computer equipment in a case handled by the two prosecutors. Investigators recently searched a storage unit that appeared to have been rented at Mr. Williams’s request and found more than 20 guns and a car that might have been used in at least one of the killings.
Law enforcement officials have not publicly named Mr. Williams as a suspect and have not formally charged him in connection to the murders of the district attorney, Mike McLelland, 63; his wife, Cynthia, 65; and his chief felony prosecutor, Mark E. Hasse, 57. But investigators from local, state and federal agencies have been focusing intensely on Mr. Williams in recent days.
Mr. Williams, 46, was already being held at the county jail on $3 million bond. He was jailed shortly after midnight on Saturday, accused of sending an anonymous e-mail to law enforcement officials threatening another attack if his demands were not met, an arrest that came as investigators from local, state and federal agencies have increasingly narrowed their focus on Mr. Williams.
[A probable cause affidavit says Eric Williams, 46, sent an email one day after the McLellands’ bodies were discovered March 30 in their home implying there would be another attack if authorities didn’t respond to various demands.
The email was sent from Eric Williams’ personal computer. Authorities nabbed him Saturday and charged him with making a terrorist threat.
He is being held on a $3 million bond on that charge, and has repeatedly said he’s innocent.]
A turning point in the investigation came late Saturday afternoon, when the authorities arrived at a self-storage business a short drive from Kaufman. There, investigators found a large storage unit where Mr. Williams had kept a white sedan and more than 20 guns, including handguns and assault rifles. He had attempted to conceal the existence of the shed, the car and the guns from investigators, law enforcement officials said.
The car, which he had purchased under someone else’s name, was a white Ford Crown Victoria that resembled an unmarked police car and was similar to the silver or gray Ford Taurus that witnesses had described fleeing the scene of the shooting of Mr. Hasse in January. The shed itself had been rented by an associate of Mr. Williams, at Mr. Williams’s request, law enforcement officials said. It was unclear Wednesday if the associate who had rented the unit was his wife.
Mr. Williams and his wife have been married for 15 years, and they live in a beige-brick house in Kaufman down the street from her elderly parents. In court documents, Mr. Williams had described his wife as ill and on disability
Mr. Williams had been a sought-after lawyer, member of the chamber of commerce and newly elected justice of the peace when he was accused of stealing computer monitors from a county building in May 2011. The two prosecutors’ aggressive work on the case helped persuade a jury to find him guilty in March 2012. He was removed from office and his law license was suspended. His nearly two decades of law enforcement training came to an end when his state-issued peace officer license was revoked. Without a county salary or the ability to practice law in the state, he was unemployed and under financial stress, and he and his lawyers were convinced that evidence used to convict him had been tampered with and that Mr. McLelland had gone after him to settle a political grudge, according to court documents.
Shortly before he was sentenced last year, Mr. Williams told the state prison agency in a pre-sentencing report that he had taken the computer equipment to test a video magistration system that would allow him to conduct hearings on the Internet. “I did not steal anything,” Mr. Williams said in the report written in April 2012. “This incident has become a tragic misunderstanding that has taken my livelihood and reputation.”
He spoke of the stress the case had put on his wife and her parents. “My life has taken a drastic turn,” he said according to the report. “My wife of 14 years is ill and on disability. My father and mother-in-law are elderly and in need of medical attention; they moved to Texas so I could be a resource to them. If I do jail time, they and my wife will be the ones being punished.”