Texas’ Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the death sentence imposed upon former Justice of the Peace Eric Williams, who was convicted of capital murder in connection with death of two prosecutors and one of their wives.
Williams was tried and convicted of capital murder in 2014 for the death of Cynthia McLelland, who was shot inside her Forney home along with her husband, Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland. Williams was also charged with capital murder for the killing of Mark Hasse, a Kaufman County assistant district attorney who was fatally shot while walking from the employee parking lot to work.
McLelland and Hasse had previously prosecuted Williams in burglary and theft by a public servant case. Williams was later removed from his job as a justice of the peace because of the convictions and was ultimately disbarred by the State Bar of Texas.
Williams appealed his conviction and death sentence to the CCA, arguing among other things that his “brain is broken” because of diabetes and that the judge who presided over his capital murder trial case biased the jury through “facial expressions.”
But in a 110-page decision released Nov. 1, the CCA rejected all of Williams’ points of error. In his decision, CCA Judge Michael Keasler noted that Williams planned to kill two other judges and presented a future danger to society.
“In addition to the three murders Williams had committed and the two murders that he was planning at the time of his arrest, Williams had a general history of making threats when he became angry or wanted to control others. He threatened to kill other attorneys over perceived insults and injuries,” Keasler wrote.
Keasler also noted Williams had pointed a gun at a couple in a church parking lot when he was chasing his dog, he had threatened to kill his own wife, and he’d threatened to kill his elderly, ill father-in-law in a dispute over a cellphone bill.
“Viewing the future dangerousness evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, we conclude that a rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a probability that Williams would commit criminal acts of violence constituting a continuing threat to society,” Keasler wrote.
William’s wife, Kim Williams, assisted her husband in the slayings and avoided a death sentence by pleading guilty and testifying against him during the 2014 trial. Kim Williams was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2015.