KAUFMAN COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) – Calling it the most difficult period in Kaufman County history, on Thursday newly appointed District Attorney Erleigh Norville Wiley said her predecessor, Mike McLelland, continues to inspire her.
As Wiley addressed the public for the first time it had been nearly two weeks since Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were gunned down in their Forney home.
Two months before the McLelland murders Kaufman County Assistant DA Mark Hasse was gunned down near the courthouse steps.
The killer or killers are still out there and it’s something Wiley acknowledges. “There is danger. We’re all in danger in Kaufman County because until we figure out who’s done these horrible things to Mike and Cynthia, and Mark, we’re still in danger.”
Given that danger Wiley, who is currently judge of the Kaufman County Court at Law, is receiving protection, which could be seen around the courthouse during the news conference.
As she considered applying for the position of Kaufman County District Attorney, Wiley said consulted with her oldest brother about leaving her position as judge. “He looked at me square in the face, and said, ‘You know, that’s what mother would do,’” she recalled.
Governor Rick Perry selected Wiley over three others who applied for the position. “I was honored, and I’m glad to step in and do it,” she said. Wiley must still be confirmed by the State Senate, which will vote on her appointment next Wednesday.
Believing the confirmation will go smoothly, Kaufman County Commissioners will now begin the process to choose a new judge.
In relation to the murders. The Kaufman community is still in shock. Green ribbons remain tied around trees and placed on doors. At the courthouse, the victims’ families are still very much on Wiley’s mind. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this sorrowful time.”
Wiley, 50, said she met with her new staff, and told them she wants to build on the success they helped achieve with Mike McLelland. “We’re going to be the best district attorney’s office this size in the state of Texas. So hold on, let’s get going.”
The three Kaufman County murders have made headlines around the world. While she admits being a little nervous to take on the now high profile position, Wiley said Kaufman is her hometown, and she’s ready to step up. “I just know the way I was born and raised, if there’s something to be done, we just need to do it.”
If she receives confirmation next week, Wiley will officially take the helm as district attorney, replacing Kaufman Assistant District Attorney Brandi Fernandez, who was named interim Kaufman County District Attorney just days after Mike McLelland was slain.
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