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Ex-Texas justice of the peace probed in prosecutor deaths

Posted at 12:51 PM, Apr 14, 2013

Ex-Texas justice of the peace charged with making ‘terroristic threat’

DALLAS, Texas (CNN) — A former Kaufman County, Texas, justice of the peace — whose home, one day ago, was searched by authorities investigating the deaths of two Texas prosecutors — is under arrest, law officers said Saturday.

Eric Williams was arrested by sheriff’s office members in Kaufman County and charged with two counts of insufficient bond and one count of making a “terroristic threat.”

Authorities have not said if Williams’ arrest is related to the investigation into the deaths of Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland.

Hasse, Kaufman County’s chief felony prosecutor, was shot and killed on January 31. McLelland, the county’s district attorney, and his wife, Cynthia, were found dead March 30 at their Forney, Texas, home.

Federal, state and local authorities looking into Hasse’s and the McLellands’ deaths executed a search warrant at Williams’ home on Friday afternoon, FBI spokeswoman Katherine Chaumont said.

On Saturday, sheriff’s deputies, Texas Rangers and FBI agents went to a storage facility in Seagoville on a search warrant also tied to the prosecutors’ deaths, according to Chaumont.

It was not immediately known if this new search has anything to do with Williams, who is being held on $3 million bond — $1 million for each charge he faces — according to the sheriff’s office.

Williams has a history with law enforcement authorities, including the Kaufman County District Attorney’s office.

Last year, he was sentenced to two years’ probation after a conviction for burglary and theft by a public servant. Hasse prosecuted Williams’ case.

Hours after the McLellands’ bodies were found, authorities met with Williams at a local Denny’s restaurant, Williams’ attorney, David Sergi, told CNN earlier this month.

Investigators took swab samples from Williams’ hands to test him for gun residue, according to the lawyer. Results were not made public by officials, but Sergi said the tests came back negative.

Sergi did not respond to CNN’s attempts Saturday seeking comment about the latest arrest.

On Friday, Sergi released a statement saying that Williams “has cooperated with law enforcement and vigorously denies any and all allegations. He wishes simply to get on with his life and hopes that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Williams told North Texas TV station KXAS earlier this month that he understands why authorities wanted to meet with him.

“If I was in their shoes, I would want to talk to me,” he said. “In the investigators’ minds, they want to check with me to do their process of elimination.”

Williams said he has no ill will toward prosecutors — he said he believes they were “doing their jobs” — and has cooperated with law enforcement.

“I certainly wish them the best in bringing justice to this incredibly egregious act,” he said.

CNN’s Ed Lavandera contributed to this report.