Disgraced Lawyer Charged With Threatening E-Mails, Suspected in Murders of Texas Prosecutors

A former justice of the peace who had been prosecuted for stealing computers was arrested Saturday on charges of sending threatening e-mails to officials in Kaufman County, Texas. Authorities are reportedly prepared to charge disgraced lawyer Eric Lyle Williams, 46, with three murders that had inflamed fears that members of a white supremacist prison gang were targeting law enforcement officials.

Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, 63, and his wife, Cynthia McLelland, 65, were shot to death two weeks ago at their home, two months after Assistant District Attorney Mark E. Hasse, 57, was shot to death in a parking lot near the county courthouse. Haase had prosecuted Williams last year, and McLelland had told investigators that they should focus on Williams as a suspect in Haase’s murder.

Williams’s law license was suspended after he was convicted of the theft charges. He was arrested early Saturday and is being held in the Kaufman County jail on $3 million bond. Williams will be charged with three counts of capital murder, Dallas CBS affiliate KTVT reported, citing unnamed sources. Williams was also charged with making terroristic threats in anonymous e-mails sent to county officials, and his bail was revoked in another case where Williams was charged with stealing money from a law library where he had worked.

The Dallas Morning News quoted an unnamed law enforcement official after Williams was arrested: “We can sleep a lot better tonight.”

The murders of Haase and the McLellands had been portrayed in national news media as potentially related to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. More than 30 members of the gang had been indicted by a federal grand jury in November. Texas officials had “issued a statewide bulletin [in December] warning officials that the Aryan Brotherhood was planning retaliation against law enforcement personnel who had helped secure the indictments,” the New York Times reported March 31. That article said Texas authorities were “pursuing any possible links between Mr. Hasse’s killing and the death of Tom Clements, the Colorado state prison chief, who was shot and killed at his home on March 19.” The suspect in Clements’s death was also reportedly a member of a white supremacist prison gang.

The New York Times quoted Mark Potok of the South Poverty Law Center. After Haase was murdered in January, Potok published a report at the SPLC’s “HateWatch” site saying that Haase had been involved in prosecuting members of the Aryan Brotherhood. Potok was interviewed on MSNBC April 1 by Martin Bashir and on April 3 by Chris Matthews. “I think the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is arguably the most violent and scary prison gang out there right now,” Potok told Matthews in an eight-minute interview segment. Potok was also cited by CNN, the New York Daily News and other national media covering the Texas murders as potentially linked to the Aryan Brotherhood.

However, Williams was always considered a key suspect in the murders, according to the Dallas Morning News:

At the emergency room in the hours after Hasse’s murder, McLelland told others that he believed Williams was behind his top assistant’s death. He made similar statements to other people before he died.
Williams lost his job, law license and health insurance.

Surveillance cameras captured footage that prosecutors used to convict Williams of stealing three computer monitors. “During sentencing two people testified that Eric Williams had threatened their lives,” KTVT reported April 3, adding that Williams had claimed in appealing his conviction that “Mike McLelland and Mark Hasse were out to get him because they didn’t like him.”



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