Eric Williams Arrested After Shooting Deaths of Texas Prosecutors
Apr 15, 2013 4:45 AM EDT
He was a justice of the peace known for zipping around Kaufman on a Segway. Then he was prosecuted by District Attorney Mike McLelland and Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse. Now Eric Williams is under arrest after the prosecutors’ slayings. Michael Daly reports.
"The prime suspect in the killings of the Kaufman County district attorney, his wife, and a deputy prosecutor was until 11 months ago a respected justice of the peace known to ride to work with his briefcase on a Segway.
On weekends, 46-year-old Eric Williams would zip around the North Texas town of Kaufman in the Segway clad in fatigues from his other life as an officer in the Texas Guard."
I encourage you to read the whole story at thedailybeast.com. Williams - a sitting judge - was known for threatening people with guns. He stalked a woman who spurned his advances and threatened to kill her. He threatened to kill a lawyer and his family and burn down their house. His downfall was stealing three computer monitors from the courthouse, caught on video. That was the only case that went to trial. It was a state jail felony, maximum sentence two years. The closing arguments say a lot about what is wrong with the criminal justice system. The DA, Mike McLelland, soon to be murdered by Williams said:
“I think what’s at stake here to a great deal is the credibility of the courthouse to the people in Kaufman County,” he said. “Every night they see corrupt public officials and corrupt businessmen and things like that arrested on the TV… And in the end they get something like some slap on the wrist, like probation.”
The defense attorney, David Sergi, argued that Williams had already been punished enough.
“I cannot stand here before this court and imagine what Mr. Williams is going through right now...
“To see everything that you have worked hard for come crumbling down,” Sergi said. "He’s lost his law license. He has lost a bench. He will lose his military commission. All of those things that mean something to him he will lose.”
Judge Michael Chitty agreed, and gave Williams probation. We know what happened next. First, Mark Hasse was gunned down in the courthouse parking lot. A couple of months later DA McLelland and his wife were executed in their home, over Easter weekend.
This sad story reminds me of a great novel by Pete Dexter, Paris Trout, about a case in Georgia where a man everyone thought was just a colorful character went on a killing rampage. The signs were all there, but the powers that be looked the other way.