Athens Review, Athens, Texas

April 15, 2013

Case builds against former JP

Man jailed on charge of making terroristic threat; bond set at $3 million

Associated Press
The Athens Review

Athens — KAUFMAN, Texas   — Authorities investigating the killings of the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife are working to build a case against a former justice of the peace prosecuted last year by the slain official's office, a law enforcement official said Monday.

Eric Lyle Williams, 46, was arrested during the weekend and remains jailed on a charge of making a terroristic threat. He is being held on $3 million bond, but authorities have not publicly discussed details of the charge against him.

Williams' arrest came after federal and local agents investigating the March 28 deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, searched Williams' home and a storage facility, and investigators are now focused on trying to build a case against him, said the law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.

The official said at least 20 weapons found in Williams' storage locker are being tested by ballistics experts. A Ford Crown Victoria similar to one seen and video recorded in the McLellands' neighborhood on the day they died also was found at the locker, the official said.

A state law enforcement official spent two-and-half hours visiting with the storage facility's manager Monday. The official went into the manager's office with a small black duffel bag and left with the bag as well as what appeared to be several documents. The manager, Larry Mathis, declined to comment after the meeting.

The storage locker is located in Seagoville, about 15 miles west of Williams' home, where two signs on the front doors Monday instructed media seeking comment to contact David Sergi, Williams' attorney in the theft case. However, a woman who answered the phone at Sergi's office said he would not have any comment on the case Monday.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting Attorney David Sergi no longer represents Eric Williams. Sergi said on Friday that Williams “vigorously asserts his innocence and denies any involvement in the killing.”

Authorities have said little about their investigation into the McClellands' deaths and have not named any suspects. Previous possible culprits mentioned included a white supremacist prison gang known as the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, which had been targeted by a task force that included McLelland's office.

Two others have been arrested for making terroristic threats during the investigation into the slayings, but authorities said they had no connection to the deaths.

The McLellands were killed about two months after one of McLelland's prosecutors, Mark Hasse, was slain outside the local courthouse. McLelland and Hasse both participated in last year's prosecution of Williams on charges he stole three computer monitors from an office building.

Williams has said he submitted to gunshot residue tests and turned over his cellphone after both McLelland and Hasse were found dead.

Both prosecutors gave closing arguments before a jury convicted Williams in April. They questioned his character and suggested he was prone to threatening others. Williams received two years' probation, but lost his position as justice of the peace — an elected judicial officer who typically handles smaller civil and administrative matters — as well as his law license.

Williams has appealed the verdict, and on March 29 — one day before the McLellands were found dead — a state appeals court in Dallas had agreed to hear oral arguments in the case.