Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Admits Ballistics Evidence for Trial|of Texas JP Accused of Triple Murder

ROCKWALL, Texas (CN) - A Texas judge will allow ballistics evidence in the upcoming trial of a former justice of the peace accused of killing a district attorney and his wife in their home after allegedly gunning down a prosecutor in broad daylight.

Eric Williams's capital murder trial is set to begin on Dec. 1 in Rockwall County, to which it was transferred from neighboring Kaufman County.

Williams, 47, is accused of murdering Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McClelland and his wife Cynthia in their home near Forney in March 2013.

Those killings came two months after McClelland's first assistant DA - Mark Hasse - was shot to death in a courthouse parking lot .

Williams could be sentenced to death if convicted.

McLelland and Hasse had prosecuted Williams for stealing county computer equipment, resulting in the loss of his judgeship and law license.

Visiting Dallas County Judge Mike Snipes on Friday denied Williams' motion to strike the testimony of prosecution ballistics expert James Jeffress, of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Jeffress testified Friday that guns found at Williams' storage unit matched 16 spent bullets found at the McClellands' home.

Williams' attorney, public defender Matthew Seymour, argued that there is no statistical basis for matching bullets with a specific gun, that the science is not exact enough to be considered expert opinion.

"The way Mr. Jeffress conducted his examination and the way other laboratories conduct their examinations ... which one is correct?" he asked. "Which one has more bearing, which one simply has a greater degree of accuracy?"

Jeffress rebutted the argument, testifying that the science of linking markings on bullets to specific guns is proven.

"I believe the consecutive manufactured studies - which we have done for over 30 years - have consistently demonstrated that we can do what we say we can do," Jeffress said. "The barrel test has been taken by 508 examiners in 20 different countries, with an error rate of less than 1 percent."

In denying the motion to strike, Snipes cited the regular admission of ballistics evidence in courts across the country.

Follow @davejourno
Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.