ROCKWALL, Texas (AP) - A former justice of the peace accused of killing a North Texas district attorney and his wife had a “treasure trove” of evidence in a storage shed, prosecutors said during opening statements Monday.
Eric Williams faces a possible death sentence for the 2013 slayings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and the prosecutor’s wife, Cynthia, at their home in Forney, just east of Dallas. Williams also is charged with fatally shooting assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse two months earlier.
Prosecutor Bill Wirskye told jurors that the storage shed’s contents pointed to Williams being the alleged gunman. Wirskye also said 20 rounds were fired inside the McLellands’ home in less than two minutes. An investigator provided early testimony on what authorities discovered at the home, where the couple was dead and dressed in their nightwear.
Authorities contend Williams was upset because the prosecutors’ office had pursued charges against him in 2012, saying he stole county-owned computer equipment. His subsequent conviction cost him his law license and job.
Williams’ estranged wife, Kim, is accused of helping him carry out the slayings and is expected to testify against him.
Defense attorney Matthew Seymour waived his opening statement. Williams’ lawyers can give a statement later in the trial.
Jurors heard from Dallas police officer Charles Tomlinson, who discovered the McLellands shot dead in their home, and saw photos and video of the crime scene that day.
The trial was moved from Kaufman County to nearby Rockwall County, where a visiting judge from Dallas is hearing the case. Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood told The Dallas Morning News that residents were “anxiously awaiting” the case.
“People are ready to let justice prevail, so we have put this behind us,” he said. “Not that we’ll forget.”
Hasse was gunned down in January 2013 as he walked toward the Kaufman County courthouse for work. Prosecutors say they have a gun linked to Hasse’s death and a mask believed to have been worn by the gunman. The items were found by a dive team in a North Texas lake.
Wirskye filed court documents in September alleging that Williams intended to target other law enforcement officials. Defense attorneys have declined to comment on the charges against Williams.
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