Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

April 4, 2013

Perry speaks at DA’s funeral

Couple’s death mourned by many, search for killers continues

Athens — MESQUITE, Texas — The slain district attorney of a North Texas county and his wife were remembered by a shaken community Thursday for their love, warmth and public service as law enforcement continued the search for their killers.

Friends and colleagues described Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, as the perfect mismatch: an outgoing Army veteran known for his wit and humor paired with a quieter partner who loved quilting and supported her husband's work.

The two shared a single, flag-draped casket at the memorial. Cynthia's remains were cremated and placed inside, next to her husband's body. Hundreds of people, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and dozens of law enforcement officers, attended the service that was held in a suburban Dallas church.

The McLellands were found dead Saturday, gunned down in their home near Forney, about 20 miles east of Dallas. Two months earlier, Mark Hasse, one of Mike McLelland's prosecutors, was shot and killed near the Kaufman County courthouse while going to work. No arrests have been made in either case.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday, said the state is offering $100,000 for the capture of the people responsible for the murders.

Christina Foreman, one of the five children the couple shared, said both her mother and stepfather "loved every minute" of their public service. She challenged the audience to stand up for what they believe in.

"They would have done it exactly the same way, because Mike believed in making a difference," Foreman said.

Bruce Bryant, chief investigator for the district attorney's office, broke down in tears as he remembered his former boss.

"We will not stop pursuing justice," Bryant said. "We will not give up the good fight. We will not stop doing God's work. We will pause only to celebrate the lives of those we have lost, but we will not stop."

Surrounding the McLellands' casket were mementos of their life together — portraits, a soldier's jacket from Mike McLelland's Army service and a quilt to commemorate one of Cynthia McLelland's favorite hobbies.

Two officers stood watch as dozens more sat in the audience. Officers in the balcony behind the stage could be seen raising white-gloved hands to their eyes during the service.

Perry said he had spoken to McLelland weeks earlier at the state Capitol in Austin. Perry credited both for serving the public: Mike as a 20-year Army veteran and district attorney, Cynthia as a nurse who worked at a state hospital.

Perry said both were aware of the dangers of the district attorney's job.

"We owe it to Mike and Cynthia to continue the work that they began," Perry said in a quiet, sometimes halting voice.

Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood, the county's chief administrative official, said he got to know Mike McLelland while the two were campaigning for office three years ago.

"I knew immediately how intelligent he was," Wood said. "But he was quite a character too."

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