‘Revenge Killings’ Ex-Judge Sentenced to Death in Texas

Vernon Bryant, Dallas Morning News via AP
Vernon Bryant, Dallas Morning News via AP
Dallas, TX

Former lawyer and ex-judge Eric Williams, who was accused of the brutal murders of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife, and an assistant prosecutor, was sentenced to death by a jury on December 17.

Texas Lawyer reported that the 47-year-old Williams had been convicted on December 4 of the capital murder of Cynthia McLelland, who, along with her husband, was shot repeatedly inside their Forney home, located east of Dallas, on March 30, 2013.

Two months earlier, Mark Hasse, a Kaufman County assistant district attorney, was fatally shot while walking from the employee parking lot to work. Prosecutors said that a masked assassin identified as Williams approached Hasse, and the two shoved each other. They said Hasse pleaded and yelled, “I’m sorry” before he was shot, according to FOX-4.

McLelland and Hasse had previously prosecuted Williams in burglary and theft in public servant cases, Texas Lawyer noted. Williams later lost his job as a justice of the peace because of the convictions. The State Bar of Texas then disbarred him.

During his trial, Williams’ wife, Kim, who was also charged with capital murder, testified that she accompanied him in a car during the murders. In her testimony, Kim Williams said her husband also planned to kill Erleigh Norville Wiley, the district attorney who replaced McLelland after his death, and former state District Judge Glen Ashworth.

While sentencing Williams to die by lethal injection, Mike Snipes, judge of the Dallas County Criminal Court No. 7, said, “As for you, Mr. Williams, you made yourself out to be some sort of Charles Bronson ‘Death Wish’ vigilante in this case. I never bought that.”

Snipes also told Williams, “And you would have murdered two other innocent people if you had the opportunity. That puts you right there with Charles Manson, Jeffery Dahmer and Richard Speck.”

Upon receiving the verdict, Williams showed no emotion, CBS-11 reported.

Prosecutors said that conviction pushed Williams over the edge. During his trial, they presented evidence that he paid a friend to rent a storage unit where he kept more than 30 guns, police tactical gear, and a getaway car, also according to FOX-4.

Family members of the victims bluntly spoke with Williams during victim impact statements.

“Pretty much the only thing I have to say is f— you Eric Williams,” said Christine Foreman, Cynthia McClelland’s daughter.

McClelland’s son, Nathan Foreman, expressed a wide range of emotions. He said, “I think hate is corrosive, it can eat away your soul so I try not to hate, but I cannot forgive and I cannot forget.”

Wiley, who was on the hit-list, said the case was a “horrible thing” that happened in Kaufman County.

“And from the testimony you heard, he wasn’t done. And of course, this is pretty near and close to me,” Wiley added.

According to Texas Lawyer, Wiley thanked Dallas criminal defense attorneys Bill Wirskye and Toby Shook, both former Dallas County DAs who were handpicked by Mike McLelland prior to his death to handle the Hasse murder prosecution.

“Eric Williams crossed a line that hardly anyone crosses,” Wirskye said. “Fortunately we were able to stop it. It sends the message that you will not be able to stop the criminal justice system and get away with it. You will not be able to assault the criminal justice system and somehow shut it down,” Texas Lawyer also reported.

Doug Parks, the Dallas criminal defense attorney who represented Williams, declined to comment after the trial.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.