Kaufman County convicted killer Eric Williams seeks new trial

Image 1 of 3

The man who assassinated Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, is seeking a new trial.

Eric Williams received a death sentence for Cynthia McLelland's murder. He was also charged for the murder of county prosecutor Mark Hasse in what prosecutors argued was a case of violent revenge. The murders and the trial captured national attention.

The judge has reserved time for the proceeding to go on, if necessary, through the end of the week. Monday’s testimony came from attorneys involved in prosecuting Williams.                     

Wearing a striped prison jumpsuit and appearing with a full beard, Williams, a death row convicted killer, was escorted into court on Monday.

With his appellate team led by attorney Carlotta Lepingwell, Williams is trying to convince the judge he deserves a new trial or a new penalty phase for his conviction.

In 2013, Williams, a former justice of the peace, was arrested for three murders that rocked Kaufman County. The ambush and execution-style killing of Kaufman County prosecutor Mark Hasse happened not far from the county courthouse.  Mike and Cynthia were found shot to death inside their home.

Williams was convicted in December 2014 for Cynthia’s murder.

At the hearing, Williams hopes to convince the judge his trial defense counsel was ineffective and that there was prosecutorial misconduct, including a secret deal with his wife at the time, Kim Williams, whose damaging testimony against him was key in his conviction.

Public defender John Wright was on Willliams’ trial defense team and took the stand. During Q&A, one of his responses was: “we might've reviewed a quarter of the discovery. We couldn't read it fast enough. We were just not prepared for trial."

Attorney Lalon Peale was on Kim’s defense team and was also questioned under oath.

During the state's cross-exam, prosecutor Lisa Smith asked, “When did the state offer Mrs. Williams a deal?”

"Right after the Eric Williams trial,” Peal answered.

And she was offered 40 years. Did you think that was fair?” Smith asked.

"Yes,” Peale replied.

The hearing will continue Tuesday morning.