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Case being built against ex-Texas justice of peace, official says

KAUFMAN, Texas — Texas authorities investigating the killings of a district attorney and his wife are working to build a case against a former justice of the peace prosecuted last year by the slain official's office, the Associated Press reported Monday, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.

Eric Lyle Williams, 46, was arrested during the weekend and remains jailed on a charge of making a terroristic threat. He is being held on $3 million bond.

Authorities allege he emailed an anonymous threat to law officers from his personal computer one day after Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found dead in their home on March 30. The email implied that if authorities didn't respond to various demands, there'd be another attack, according to a probable cause affidavit released by the Sheriff's Office.

Williams' arrest came after federal and local agents investigating the couple's deaths searched Williams' home and a storage facility, and investigators are now focused on trying to build a case against him, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.

The official said at least 20 weapons found in Williams' storage locker are being tested by ballistics experts. A Ford Crown Victoria similar to one seen and video recorded in the McLellands' neighborhood on the day they died also was found at the locker, the official said.

Authorities have said little about their investigation into the McLellands' deaths and have not named any suspects. Previous possible culprits mentioned included a white supremacist prison gang known as the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, which had been targeted by a task force that included McLelland's office.

The McLellands were killed about two months after one of McLelland's prosecutors, Mark Hasse, was slain outside the local courthouse. McLelland and Hasse both participated in last year's prosecution of Williams on charges he stole three computer monitors from an office building.

Williams received two years' probation, but lost his position as justice of the peace — an elected judicial officer who typically handles smaller civil and administrative matters — as well as his law license. He has appealed.

.fast facts

Death plot by jailed 84-year-old is alleged

An 84-year-old Texas woman jailed on a theft charge tried to hire a hit man to kill the prosecutor handling her case and to maim his boss, Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said Monday. Ligon said Dorothy Canfield wanted the attacks on him and an assistant to appear similar to the recent unsolved killings of two other Texas prosecutors, Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.

Case being built against ex-Texas justice of peace, official says 04/15/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 15, 2013 11:28pm]
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