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Source: Case being built against ex-Texas official

Monday - 4/15/2013, 11:19pm  ET

This photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office shows Eric Williams. Williams was admitted to the Kaufman County Jail, in Kaufman, Texas, early Saturday, April 13, 2013, and charged with making a "terroristic threat." Federal and local authorities searched Williams' home Friday as part of an investigation into the deaths of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia. (AP Photo/Kaufman County Sheriff's Office)

DANNY ROBBINS
Associated Press

KAUFMAN, Texas (AP) -- Texas authorities investigating the killing 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, a law enforcement official said Monday.

Eric Lyle Williams, 46, was arrested over 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 Associated Press 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.

A state law enforcement official spent two-and-half hours visiting with the storage facility's manager Monday. The official went into the manager's office with a small black duffel bag and left with the bag as well as what appeared to be several documents. The manager, Larry Mathis, declined to comment after the meeting.

The storage locker is located in Seagoville, about 15 miles west of Williams' home, where two signs on the front doors Monday instructed media seeking comment to contact David Sergi, Williams' attorney in the theft case. However, a woman who answered the phone at Sergi's office said he would not have any comment on the case Monday.

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.

Two others have been arrested for making terroristic threats during the investigation into the slayings, but authorities said they had no connection to the deaths.

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 has said he submitted to gunshot residue tests and turned over his cellphone after both McLelland and Hasse were found dead.

Both prosecutors gave closing arguments before a jury convicted Williams last March. They questioned his character and suggested he was prone to threatening others. 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.

Williams has appealed the verdict, and on March 29 -- one day before the McLellands were found dead -- a state appeals court in Dallas agreed to hear oral arguments in the case.

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Associated Press video journalist John L. Mone contributed to this report.


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