Mark Hasse, the Kaufman County prosecutor gunned down Thursday, was a hard-working lawyer who “loved to tell stories” and often put dangerous criminals behind bars, a longtime friend says.
Kaufman defense attorney Eric Smenner said he first met Hasse when the two worked in Dallas in the 1990’s.
He said Hasse as a pilot who loved to fly and that he had survived a plane crash in the mid-1990s.
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“He had some pretty serious head injuries. It took him a while to get back. He had noticeable mark on his head, some scarring from the accident. He recovered from it," said Smenner.
Smenner added that while it was too soon to say what may have led to the shooting, Hasse had dealt with cases involving methamphetamine in the county, gangs and white supremacist groups.
“Any prosecutor will make enemies. When you stand up at trial and point your finger at them, sometimes they take that personally," Smenner said.
Smenner said Hasse was not married and rarely talked about his family, but "was a story teller. He would talk to you for hours."
Former colleagues of Hasse’s say the news of his death spread through the Frank Crowley Courts Building and is sending “shockwaves” through the legal community in Dallas.
Hasse worked for the Dallas County DA’s office from 1982 to 1988, having earned his law degree from SMU in 1981 according to the State Bar of Texas’ website.
Former Dallas County assistant district attorney Toby Shook said that Hasse was a felony prosecutor when he joined the DA’s office.
“When I was a young prosecutor we use to watch because he was that talented,” Shook said. “You’d learn a lot from him, he would talk about his cases, didn’t mind sharing information and that kind of deal. Very friendly guy, talkative with everyone that kind of thing.”
Shook says Hasse was one of the most talented prosecutors and targeted major drug dealers. Shook says he put “a lot of folks in prison” and was at one point the head of the DA’s office Organized Crime Division.
Shook echoed Smenner’s thoughts that prosecutors often deal with unpleasant individuals who may wish to do them harm.
“It’s always in the back of your mind that something like that could happen because you’re dealing with prosecuting very violent people who know violent people,” Shook said. “And sometimes you hear of threats but it rarely, rarely happens.”
Former Kaufman County District Attorney Rick Harrison, who is now a criminal defense attorney, said it was stressful and shocking news when he emerged from a murder trial at lunch.
“He was a, you know, very experienced prosecutor,” Harrison said, “and enjoyed being a prosecutor, you know, enjoyed the job."
Shook says prosecuting was Hasse’s life.
“Mark Hasse loved prosecuting more than anything,” Shook said. “It was a job that he loved getting up in the morning and going to, he truly loved it you can tell that when talking to him. It was his life and he died doing it.”