Death penalty possibility looms for pair accused in Texas prosecutors' killings

Story highlights

  • Eric and Kim Williams are set to appear Friday in a Texas court
  • They are charged with murder in 3 deaths, 2 of them county prosecutors
  • Prosecutors could announce their intent to seek the death penalty
  • Kim Williams' lawyer says he expects they'll seek such a sentence against Eric
A former justice of the peace and his wife accused of killing two Texas county prosecutors will be in court Friday, at which time prosecutors could announce their intent to seek the death penalty against one or both of them.
Paul Johnson said Thursday he "was not so sure" if prosecutors will say they will try to get a death sentence for his client, Kim Lene Williams, if she's convicted of capital murder.
But he's more certain they will go that route with her husband, Eric Lyle Williams.
"That's my understanding," Johnson said. "I expect them to seek the death penalty against Eric."
The Kaufman Herald, a local newspaper, reported this week that county Sheriff David Byrnes recently told a Lions Club gathering that prosecutors will announce Friday that they will ask for the death penalty against both the husband and wife.
A preliminary hearing in the Williamses' murder case is set to start at 9 a.m. (10 a.m. ET) Friday in Kaufman, a small city about 35 miles southeast of Dallas. The hearing will be at a courthouse where Eric Williams once worked as justice of the peace.
A Kaufman County grand jury indicted the Williamses in April on capital murder charges in the deaths of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, District Attorney Michael McLelland and Cynthia McLelland.
Hasse was killed in January on his way to work at a courthouse; McLelland and his wife were fatally shot two months later at their home near Forney.
Byrnes previously said the killings stemmed from Eric Williams' "past legal problems with the criminal justice system of this county:" a 2012 conviction on burglary and theft charges that led to his removal from office.
His wife, Kim, has confessed to involvement in the killings and implicated her husband as the trigger man, according to court papers.
In Hasse's death, Kim Williams was the getaway driver; in the McLellands' killings, she was a passenger, according to Byrnes. In both cases, Eric Williams fired the fatal shots, according to the sheriff.
Eric Williams, who is also charged with making a terroristic threat, also was arrested in April and accused of using his home computer to threaten police investigating the McLellands' killings, according to a sheriff's affidavit.
In recent months, Kim Williams has filed for divorce from Eric, Johnson said Thursday.