‘He wanted to get even’: How a former lawyer snuffed the lives of prominent prosecutors out of rage, jealousy

True crime author Kathryn Casey visits the notorious Kaufman County murderer on Death Row

In January 2013, Mark Hasse, a beloved Chief Assistant District Attorney in Kaufman County, Texas, was shot and killed in broad daylight while walking from his car to the local courthouse. Two months later, police found the bodies of the Kaufman County Criminal District Attorney, Mike McLelland, and his wife, Cynthia, inside their home, both shot to death.

In April 2013, Eric Lyle Williams, 46 at the time, was arrested and charged with capital murder for all three deaths. His wife, Kim, also 46 at the time, was arrested shortly after, also charged with capital murder.  

A few years before the murders, Eric Williams, a former attorney, was a newly-elected justice of the peace and a member of the Chamber of Commerce when he was busted for stealing three computer monitors from the Kaufman county courthouse. McLelland and Hasse served as prosecutors during Williams’ trial.

When a jury found him guilty of burglary, Williams was stripped of his license and removed from office, according to The New York Times. The lifestyle the Williams couple had grown accustomed to was over, and Eric Williams, full of reported rage and hatred, asserted that Hasse and McLelland had a political grudge against him and that he’d been framed.

Eric Williams [Photo: Texas Department of Corrections]
In her latest book, “In Plain Sight: The Kaufman County Prosecutor Murders,” Kathryn Casey digs deep into the case and “fills in the blanks” of the murderers’ lives, sharing unknown insights about the couple and what made them snap and snuff out the lives of three prominent Kaufman County citizens.

Eric and Kim Williams both turned down most media interviews, but they talked to Casey while behind bars. Williams is currently on Texas’ death row, while Kim is serving out 40 years in a women’s prison in Texas. Casey told CrimeOnline that she spent several hours with both Eric and Kim in person, while writing to them on and off for a few years.

“Kim agreed [to the interview] because she’d read one of my books and liked it. I don’t know why Eric said yes to my request for an interview, but I’m glad that he did. In all, I spent five hours with Eric, four with Kim. We wrote off and on over a period of a couple of years.”

Casey’s visit to Eric Williams entailed an arduous process of making her way through numerous security measures in order to talk him in the death row area at the Polunsky Unit prison in Livingston. 

“It’s a highly guarded unit, as everyone can imagine. I went through multiple sally ports, a metal detector, and was searched. As I entered, I heard the heavy clank of the prison doors locking behind me. When I reached my destination, I sat on one side of a thick Plexiglas window. Eric was brought out, locked in a cage on the other side. Then we talked via a telephone.”

Casey explained that although Eric, who was considered one of the “smart kids” while growing up Fort Worth, smiled frequently and was mostly amiable during her visits, he still expressed anger and anxiety when asked about the murders. Regardless, Casey said he provided her with an in-depth look into his childhood and adult life, which she detailed in her book. 

Mark Hasse (left), Mike McLelland, and Cynthia McLelland [Photos: Kathryn Casey]
Kim Williams, on the other hand, came across as completely honest and accepting of her crimes, according to Casey. But the question still remains: Why did she agree to help her husband murder people? It’s been said she was unhappy in her marriage and seemed to be going through the motions as Williams cheated on her and mostly ignored her. She was also on numerous narcotics at the time of murders, which left her feeling numb and with brain fog.

Casey told CrimeOnline that with two theories on Kim’s motives, it’s ultimately up to readers to decide what to believe.

“There are two theories on Kim. Some people described her to me as Eric’s willing accomplice.  She admits she was angry at Mike McLelland and Mark Hasse. She blamed them for ruining her life. Yet there’s another side: Kim’s. During my interviews with her, she maintained that she had reason to fear Eric, and that she became his accomplice because she believed she had no other choice. Readers will have to decide for themselves what they believe.”

Kim Williams played an integral part in bringing down Eric Williams, who she later divorced while in prison. She told prosecutors that her former husband planned the killings out in advance, even referring to Hasse’s murder as “Tombstone,” in reference to a film in which people are shot and killed in the street, according to Dallas Morning News.

She also testified that she and Eric made plans to carry out three additional killings, but their plans were halted when a friend Eric met in the Texas National Guards tipped police off about a storage unit he rented on behalf of the killer. After finding guns, ammunition and other evidence in the unit, Eric and Kim Williams were arrested, ending the Kaufman County killing spree.

Judge Mike Snipes compared Eric Williams to Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer as he handed down the death sentence.

“In the end, this case is truly all about revenge,” Casey added. “Eric was angry, fuming at Mike McLelland and Mark Hasse. Eric and Kim had lost everything. Their world crumbled around them. And Eric blamed the prosecutors and the others on his hit list for his predicament. He wanted to get even.”

[Feature Photo: Eric and Kim Williams/Texas Department of Corrections]