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I-Team: Acting Kaufman County DA Named, Governor Has Three Weeks To Appoint Replacement

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Mireya Villarreal
A native Texan, Mireya was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley....
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KAUFMAN COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) - Two days have passed since this latest chapter of chaos began in Kaufman County.  Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were found by a friend Saturday evening.  Both had been shot multiple times.  McLelland’s murder comes two months after one of his prosecutors was gunned down.

State statute says the first assistant fills in until an official appointment is made.  That means Brandi Fernandez will only be acting district attorney for about three weeks.

♦♦♦Click Here for Comprehensive Coverage of Developments in Kaufman County♦♦♦

This afternoon the CBS 11 I-Team confirmed two attorneys have already thrown their names in the hat for the Kaufman DA vacancy.  There is one attorney out of Tyler and another  in Forney that have reached out to the Republican Party in Kaufman.

“We feel like it’s very important that we have a new DA in place as soon as possible. And we’ll be asking the Governor to do what he can to expedite that,” Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said.

Kaufman County leaders are already gathering names to submit to Governor Perry’s office.  No word on whether Brandi Fernandez is interested but, for now, the felony prosecutor is pitching in as the acting district attorney.

“We interviewed certain people and our recommendation to the Governor was that he appoint Mike Chitty to the 422nd District Court.  And he did that,” Bill Baker remembered.

In 2007 a new court was created in Kaufman County.  The Republican Party in this area played a big role in finding the new judge by interviewing potential candidates and submitting suggestions to the governor’s office.  Party Chair Bill Baker says he’d expect to have a similar voice in the appointment of Mike McLelland’s official replacement.

“People are interested,” Investigative Reporter Mireya Villarreal asked.

“Yes,” Baker answered.  “I don’t know that I’d be jumping into that position right now.  But they’re dedicated people that want to serve this county.”

For the next 21 days Baker plans to work with county leaders and people interested in stepping into Kaufman County’s vacancy.  But as a friend of McLellan, Baker admits it won’t be easy to fill his shoes.

Once Governor Perry makes his decision, the Texas Senate will have to approve.  Earlier today he released a statement saying:

“Our prayers are with the McLelland family, their friends and the people of Kaufman County as they try to make sense of this tragic situation. My office has begun the process to find a replacement for DA McLelland, and I will make an appointment as soon as possible.”

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