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Kaufman County Murder Trial Starts Today

Bill Zeeble
The late Kaufman County D.A. Mike McLelland, remembering his murdered friend and colleague Mark Hasse. He vowed to get the killer. Two months later, prosecutors say Hasse's murderer, Eric Williams, gunned down McLelland and his wife in their home.

One-time Justice of the Peace Eric Williams faces the death penalty for murdering Kaufman County’s District Attorney, his wife, and an Assistant D.A. in 2013. The trial starts today in Rockwall County.

Three high profile murders in two months made national news in 2013. Prosecutors say former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric Williams gunned down the county’s Assistant D.A. Mark Hasse, then a couple months later shot and killed D.A. Mike McLelland, and his wife Cynthia with a different weapon. Officials say revenge was the motive. McLelland and Hasse successfully prosecuted Williams for burglary and theft.

At the direction of visiting Dallas County Judge Mike Snipes, one case will be  prosecuted first – the murder of Cynthia McLelland. At a memorial last year, she and husband Mike were remembered by friend Leah Phillips.

“I can’t tell you how much we loved and adored this couple and their family  and all of our friends,” Phillips said. “The world will never ever be the same without them. Cynthia my sister, I’ll see you on the other side.”

It was the January, 2013 murder of Mark Hasse that started the killing spree, say prosecutors. In the aftermath of that crime, Kaufman D.A. Mike McLelland vowed to get his colleague’s killer.

“I hope that the people that did this are watching, because we’re very confident that we’re going to find you. We’re going to pull you out of whatever hole you’re in, we’re going to bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” McLelland said.

Two months later, McLelland and his wife were gunned down in their home. Because of publicity, this trial was moved. Residents of Rockwall County, not Kaufman, will decide the fate Williams. His wife Kim, also accused in this case, is listed as a prosecution witness. Judge Snipes has set aside three weeks for the trial.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.