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Ex-justice of the peace charged in Texas slayings

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Story highlights

  • Eric Williams charged with capital murder
  • His bail is set at $23 million
  • His wife has already been charged with murder

A former justice of the peace now faces capital murder charges in the killings of two Texas prosecutors and the wife of one of them, authorities announced Thursday.

Eric Williams' bail has been set at $23 million in the March killings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, and the January slaying of Mark Hasse, one of McLelland's assistant district attorneys. Williams was already in jail on a charge of threatening investigators probing the killings, and his wife had been charged with murder on Wednesday.

"The murder of a public official, such as a judge a prosecutor or a law-enforcement officer, is an assault on all the people of the state, because it's an attack of the rule of law," said Kirby Dendy, chief of the Texas Rangers.

Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes said the killings stemmed from Williams' "past legal problems with the criminal justice system of this county" -- a 2012 conviction on burglary and theft charges that led to his removal from office.

Kim Lene Williams, 46, is also charged with murder in the death of prosecutor Mark Hasse.

His wife, Kim Williams, was booked early Wednesday on murder charges. She confessed in detail to her involvement in the scheme and implicated her husband as the trigger man, according to court papers.

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Byrnes said Eric Williams fired the fatal shots in both slayings. In Hasse's death, Kim Williams was the getaway driver; in the McLellands' killings, she was a passenger, "and Eric did the killing."

    "We do not believe there were any other major actors in this case," Byrnes said.

    Hasse and Mr. McLelland both believed that Eric Williams blamed them for his removal from office, a sheriff's sergeant noted in Kim Williams' arrest paperwork. The prosecutors carried handguns for their protection after the Williams trial "because they believed Eric Williams to be a threat to their personal safety."

    Eric Williams was arrested last week on a count of making a terroristic threat. A sheriff's affidavit accused him of using his home computer to threaten police investigating the McLellands' killings.

    Eric Williams' attorney released a statement Friday saying he "has cooperated with law enforcement and vigorously denies any and all allegations. He wishes simply to get on with his life and hopes that the perpetrators are brought to justice."

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