Kaufman County

Co-defendant Kim Williams speaks from prison about 2013 Kaufman triple murder case

Friday Dateline program reports on the Eric Williams case

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From prison, the wife of convicted killer Eric Williams speaks to NBC’s Dateline Friday night about one of the most notorious killing sprees in North Texas history.

Kim Williams was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the Kaufman revenge murders that put her husband on death row.

It was January 2013 when Assistant Kaufman County District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down on his way to work near the Kaufman County Courthouse.

That day his boss, District Attorney Mike McLelland promised to prosecute the killer to the fullest extent of the law.

But two months later before any arrests were made, McLelland and his wife Cynthia were found murdered at their home.

Dallas Attorney Toby Shook was one of the lawyers assigned as a special prosecutor for the investigation and trial.

“It was a very heavy responsibility. I’ve never seen a case like this before,” Shook said. “It was a diabolical crime, the extent, the planning that went into these murders for revenge, the cold-blooded nature of the killings.”

During the investigation, other Kaufman officials received protection for fear they could be next.

“That was a pretty scary time for all of us,” former Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said. 

As the county’s top elected official, Wood said he was close to all the people involved.

“McLelland and Mark would stop in the office two or three times a week and just say ‘hello, how are things going,’ just have a cup of coffee or whatever,” Wood said. "It really was a shocker to just about everybody I came in contact with."

As investigators considered all sorts of possible suspects and motives, Wood said insiders suspected former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric Williams from the very beginning.

Past conflicts with county leadership included a theft of computer monitors case that ended Williams’ JP position.

“He felt that he didn’t need to go through the process that was set up by the county,” Wood said.

During the investigation, Williams spoke with reporters and boldly denied any involvement before he was finally arrested after the McLelland murders.

Current District Attorney Erleigh Wiley said she had an earlier conflict with Williams that could have made her his first victim.

“I think all the time that I really am blessed,” Wiley said.

As a judge at the time, Wiley said she accused Williams of overbilling for county-assigned child protective services cases.  Wiley said the issue contributed to the demise of Williams’ law practice before he ran for Justice of the Peace.

“There were thousands of dollars of county assigned work over years that he had discrepancies,” Wiley said.

Kim Williams testified against Eric in the sentencing phase of his trial, detailing how their crimes were carried out.

His wife said Eric Williams had a hit list of people who might also have been killed if he had not been stopped and Erleigh Wiley was on the list.

“When I heard that I was like, ‘Wow,’” Wiley said.

These three people involved with the case ten years ago are curious to hear what Kim Williams has to say about it now.

“I don’t know if what she says today will be to try to mitigate her role because she wants to make parole, obviously, because it will be another ten years when she will come up,” Shook said.

Wood said he still considers Eric Williams to be the main culprit.

“He was such a controlling person. I don’t think she was of her right mind. I understand she was usually sedated,” Wood said.

Wiley said Kim Williams is responsible because she could have taken action to stop the killing, but also said the case is a lesson for influencing others.

“I would put nothing past Eric Williams. I would put nothing past him. So, that makes me more sympathetic to her,” Wiley said. “It is pretty amazing. It’s an unbelievable kind of story.”

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