Former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric Williams is probably more concerned about being accused of murdering two Kaufman County prosecutors than the fact a Dallas Court of Appeals Tuesday, July 30 upheld his burglary and theft convictions from 2012, according to an article in the Dallas Morning News newspaper yesterday. He now faces the death penalty for allegedly murdering the prosecutors who handled those two cases against him, according to WFAA TV news.
Williams’ appellant points were that the trial court should not have admitted into evidence surveillance video because it was a cut and paste work of art. The appeals court disagreed, ruling simply that there was no merit to the contention.
The appeals court also ruled the trial judge did not err in allowing jurors to take notes and refer to them during deliberations.
With capital murder trials looming in his future for the murder of Kaufman County prosecutor Mark Hasse and District Attorney Mike McLelland, the theft and burglary convictions which were affirmed probably seem like small potatoes in the overall scheme of things.
Hasse was gunned down as he stepped from his vehicle near the Kaufman County Courthouse on Jan. 31 on his way to work in the district attorney’s office. McLelland and his wife Cynthia were shot to death in their Forney, Texas home.
Both Williams and his wife Kim have been arrested for capital murder. Law enforcement authorities have said Kim is suspected as being the driver for her husband who is alleged to have been the shooter in both incidents.
This is the first time in Texas history two prosecutors from the same office have been murdered during the same year. It may also be the first time a justice of the peace has been charged of murdering prosecutors in the Lone Star State.
Special prosecutor Toby Shook said he hopes to get the former justice of the peace to trial by October of 2014 and that he hopes to be able to pick a jury in Kaufman County.
Reports indicate law enforcement believes the theft and burglary cases against Williams may have led him to retaliate against the two prosecutors. The former justice of the peace lost his job on the bench as a result of his two convictions. He also saw his law license snatched away from him.
He was convicted of stealing a computer from Kaufman County property. A videotape appeared to show him carrying computer equipment.
The community of Kaufman County which includes both Forney and Kaufman was seized with fear first when Hasse was gunned down and then again when the DA was murdered execution style with his wife in his own home. His wife was slain near the front door while his body was found closer to his cache of guns he reportedly kept near the back of his house.
The Fifth Court of Appeals located in Dallas handed down its decision affirming the convictions. There could be an effect on the capital murder trials the former JP is facing. Those final convictions may be used to impeach him if he decides to take the stand as a witness in his capital murder trials.
Even if he doesn’t testify, the convictions can be used against him during the punishment phase, if he is convicted of capital murder.
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