Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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July 20, 2013

Kaufman prosecutors to seek death penalty

KAUFMAN — Prosecutors will go before a Kaufman County district court on Friday, July 26 and formally announce they will be seeking the death penalty for Eric and Kim Williams, accused of three murders earlier this year.

Kaufman County Sheriff David A. Byrnes gave that information to a crowd of Kaufman Lions Club members at the organization’s weekly meeting on Friday (July 19).

Judge Michael Snipes of the Criminal District Court No. 7 of Dallas County will be in Kaufman to sit on that pre-trial proceeding, according to his court coordinator.

Snipes was appointed as the presiding judge on the capital murder cases after 422nd Judicial District Judge B. Michael Chitty recused himself.

“We’re going to try to seat a jury in Kaufman County,” Byrnes said, heading off questions about whether or not a trial would be held here. “We think we can do that.”

“We think the people of Kaufman County deserve to hear this case.”

Byrnes was the club’s guest speaker at its luncheon and was asked there to talk to members about the events that began in late January.

“Jan. 31st, at 8:43 a.m., changed Kaufman forever,” Byrnes began. “Mark Hasse was assassinated on his way to work.”

Hasse, a Kaufman County assistant district attorney, was shot and killed at the scene, one block from the courthouse.

On March 30, the day before Easter Sunday, district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were shot and killed in their home.

In subsequent weeks, former justice of the peace Eric Williams was jailed for sending a terroristic threat by email.

Days later, during an interview with law enforcement, his wife Kim Williams confessed that she had been the driver of the vehicle that had carried her and her husband to both murder scenes and said her husband was the shooter in both cases.

Both McLelland and Hasse were the prosecuting attorneys in the 2012 trial of Eric Williams that saw a jury hand down two guilty verdicts on state jail felony charges.

Chitty was the presiding judge on that case.

The result of that trial saw Eric Williams removed from office and have his license to practice law suspended by the State Bar of Texas.

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