Texas Peace Justice|Fights Death Sentence

     KAUFMAN, Texas (CN) – The Texas justice of the peace sentenced to death for murdering a district attorney’s wife seeks a new trial, claiming tests would show that brain damage from diabetes altered his judgment when he killed her.
     Eric Williams, 47, of Kaufman, was sentenced to death on Dec. 17 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 resulted in the loss of Williams’s job and his disbarment.
     A Kaufman County judge granted a transport order and bench warrant for Williams on Dec. 30, according to InForney.com, an online news site covering Kaufman County and the city of Forney.
     Williams argued in the filings that visiting Dallas County Judge Mike Snipes refused to continue the two-week-long punishment phase of his trial to allow brain scans to be performed and expert testimony to be gathered that would have revealed the brain damage.
     Snipes had granted a change of venue from Kaufman County for Williams’ trial due to widespread publicity. Both Rockwall and Kaufman counties are directly east of Dallas County. Williams did not testify in his own defense.
     “The results of the medical testing are expected to support Mr. Williams’ contention, to be made at a motion for new trial, that his mitigation case for a life sentence, rather than a death sentence, was severely prejudiced by the refusal of the trial judge to continue the trial of the punishment phase of the case to permit his counsel time to develop the argument that his judgment and decision making abilities were substantially impaired by damage to his brain, likely caused by uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes and related fainting and falling episodes,” the application states.
     Williams “would have offered the results of the brain scans and related expert testimony as a part of his mitigation case, and to rebut the state’s argument that he constitutes a continuing threat to society.”
     Williams’ attorneys want him taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston “as soon as practicable” to prepare for a motion for new trial, to be filed by the Jan. 16 deadline.
     Williams’ wife, Kim, pleaded guilty to her role in the three murders and was sentenced to 40 years in state prison on Dec. 30. She was the prosecution’s star witness during Williams’ sentencing phase, testifying that he planned to kill Mike McClelland during a holiday weekend when his security detail would be gone.
     She testified that Cynthia McClelland was killed as “collateral damage” because she saw the shooting and that Williams had to shoot her again because she was “still moaning.”
     Williams’ attorneys claimed that the entire case was built on circumstantial evidence, with no murder weapon or eyewitnesses.

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