KAUFMAN, Texas (AP) — In a surprising twist, the wife of a jailed former justice of the peace was charged Wednesday with capital murder after authorities say she confessed to helping her husband kill two North Texas prosecutors who aggressively secured a theft conviction against him.
The overnight arrest and charge against Kim Lene Williams is the latest turn in an investigation that had recently focused on Eric Williams after authorities searched his home and a nearby storage facility stocked with guns. An arrest affidavit alleges she told investigators Tuesday that her husband shot and killed Kaufman County assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse in January and District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife last month.
The affidavit does not specify what role she played in the killings. Investigators said they would not release further details until briefing the victims' families.
Eric Williams, 46, who has not yet been charged in the slayings, remained jailed on a $3 million bond Wednesday on a charge of making a terroristic threat. Kim Williams, 46, was being held on a $10 million bond.
"I don't think anyone could have written a novel that would play out like this," said Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood. He said county employees were relieved the case was moving forward but also were shocked by the recent developments.
McLelland and Hasse prosecuted Eric Williams last year for theft of three computer monitors from a county building. Williams was convicted, sentenced to probation and lost his law license and his elected position as justice of the peace — a judge who handles mostly administrative duties.
McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found dead March 30 in their home, two months after Hasse was gunned down near the county courthouse. Wood said the DA told him after Hasse was killed that he believed Eric Williams was behind the attack but acknowledged he had little evidence to support his suspicion.
The officer who signed the affidavit, sheriff's Sgt. Matt Woodall, said he had learned from other officers and county employees that Hasse and McLelland both believed Williams blamed them for the loss of his job. The prosecutors carried handguns after the trial because they thought he was "a threat to their personal safety," Woodall wrote.
Eric Williams was arrested Saturday on allegations he sent an email to authorities — one day after the McLellands' bodies were discovered — implying there would be another attack if authorities didn't respond to various demands.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation previously said authorities were trying to build a case against Eric Williams in the prosecutors' slayings. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.
The official said ballistics experts were testing at least 20 weapons found in a storage locker under Eric Williams' name at a facility near Dallas. A Ford Crown Victoria similar to one recorded in the McLellands' neighborhood around the time the couple was killed was parked at the storage facility, the official said.
A message left with an attorney who had been representing Eric Williams was not returned Wednesday. Jail records did not list an attorney for Kim Williams.
While Eric Williams was well known in town as a family lawyer and later as a justice of the peace, county officials and neighbors said Kim Williams was rarely seen around Kaufman.
The county judge said he met her only once, briefly, at a swearing-in ceremony for public officials. A local attorney, Steve Hulme, said he knew Eric Williams' wife had health issues and called her arrest "just shocking."
Richard Mohundro, a next-door neighbor, said Kim Williams used to visit him and talk on his front porch.
"I actually had many more conversations with Kim ... than I ever did with him," Mohundro said. "She is in bad health and hasn't been outside much in the last two years."
Kim Williams testified at the sentencing phase of her husband's theft case last spring, calling him "a loving man" and contradicting the image presented in trial testimony indicating he made death threats against a former girlfriend and a local attorney.
She said she suffers from several illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. She said her husband was her sole caregiver as well as the caregiver for her two ailing parents.
"He wouldn't do anything to hurt anybody," she testified, according to a story from the Forney Post. "I'm standing by him 100 percent."
Eric Williams has said that after the McLellands' deaths and after Hasse was gunned down Jan. 31, he submitted to gunshot residue tests and turned over his cellphone.
Two other people have been arrested for making terroristic threats during the investigation into the slayings, but authorities said they had no connection to the deaths.