Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Texas Justice of the Peace|Sent Back to Death Row

KAUFMAN, Texas (CN) - A Texas judge Monday sent a former justice of the peace back to death row after denying his request for a new trial for the murder of a district attorney's wife.

Visiting Lamar County District Judge Webb Biard rejected Eric Williams' motion for a new trial, days after hearing expert witness testimony on Williams' claim that his "broken brain" was not tested until after his conviction.

Williams, 47, of Kaufman, was sentenced to die in December for the capital murder of Cynthia McClelland, the wife of former Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McClelland.

The McClellands were gunned down in their Forney home on March 28, 2013, two months after Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was shot to death in a Kaufman County Courthouse parking lot by a masked gunman .

Prosecutors said during the jury trial in Rockwall County that Williams plotted to killed McLelland and Hasse after they prosecuted him in 2012 for stealing three county computer monitors. That conviction cost Williams his job and his law license.

Prosecutors said Cynthia McClelland was not targeted - that Williams saw her killing as "collateral damage."

The defense's expert witnesses testified that brain scans showed brain damage, though the prosecution's expert witnesses testified there was "nothing wrong with him" on his first evaluation.

Williams' attorneys also claimed that Dallas County Judge Mike Snipes was biased during the trial, using "facial expressions" and "extrajudicial" behavior against their client.

Snipes harshly denounced Williams after sentencing, comparing him to the "vigilante" that Charles Bronson portrayed in the "Death Wish" movies, and to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Williams' attorneys said Snipes denied funding the brain tests, then allowed them after the trial had begun, and denied their request to delay the trial pending outcome of the tests.

Special prosecutor Bill Wirskye told ABC affiliate WFAA that the defense had plenty of time to get the brain scans done before trial, and that one of their own medical experts told them months earlier they should have them performed.

"The only thing wrong with Eric Williams is he's a psychopath," Wirskye said Monday. "Something is wrong, but it's wrong with his mind and heart. His heart is dark and evil."

Follow @davejourno
Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.