Suspect in Texas DA Deaths: Disgraced Justice of Peace

Eric Williams arrested, charged with making terroristic threats
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2013 9:03 AM CDT
Suspect in Texas DA Deaths: Disgraced Justice of Peace
This photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office shows Eric Williams.   (AP Photo/Kaufman County Sheriff's Office)

Eric Williams was an officer in the Texas Guard, a reserve Kaufman County deputy, and was elected justice of the peace in 2010—now, the Daily Beast reports, he's the prime suspect in the Texas prosecutor murders. District Attorney Mike McLelland, who was murdered along with his wife, and first victim Assistant DA Mark Hasse both prosecuted Williams when he was arrested for stealing computer equipment from the county in 2011. Williams, known for riding to work and around town on a Segway, was ultimately sentenced to two years of probation in April of last year (he also lost his law license, his bench, and his military commission, according to his lawyer). During the sentencing phase of the trial, witnesses testified about threats Williams had made in the past, including one threat to kill an attorney and his family. Williams was mentioned as a possible suspect, but not named, earlier this month; now he's been arrested and charged with making terroristic threats (authorities say they linked him to an anonymous threatening email to county officials sent in the wake of McLelland's death).

But the Dallas Morning News reports he's expected to be charged with the murders as soon as tomorrow. Williams had been questioned on several occasions and submitted to gunpowder residue tests that reportedly came back negative. Since then, investigators have had him under surveillance and have searched his home, his mother-in-law's home, and a storage space—where they found 20 weapons, including the type used in the murders, as well as a Ford Crown Victoria that bears resemblance to a vehicle spotted in McLelland's neighborhood the day he was killed. The Wall Street Journal notes that Williams had considered McLelland a political enemy since 2006, long before his theft trial. (Read more Mark Hasse stories.)

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