Kaufman One Year Later: “I Think It Lost A Lot Of Its Innocence”

KAUFMAN (CBS 11 NEWS) – Ron Herrington can never forget, one year ago today, his good friend Mark Hasse, the top assistant Kaufman County DA, was shot to death one block from the courthouse.   “Everyone was so much on edge.”

Hasse’s murder scared so many people around Kaufman.

But their fear intensified when D-A Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were shot inside their home last March.

Several weeks later, authorities charged former Justice of the Peace Eric Williams and his wife Kim with capital murder.  Herrington says, “I always called it my Mayberry before because I worked in Dallas and compared to Dallas, it was so innocent, but I think it lost a lot of its innocence.”

Hasse and McLelland prosecuted and convicted Williams for stealing the county’s computer equipment.

Herrington says Hasse started carrying a pistol, and was afraid Williams would try to kill him.  “He said it so many times and with such conviction, I was very concerned Eric had done something.”

Bill Fortner is Kaufman’s mayor.  “I think there’s still quite a bit of anxiety down at the courthouse, particularly the DA’s office.”

Life may have returned to normal, and time has certainly passed, but the Mayor says the murders are still at the top of everyone’s minds here.

Fortner says, “People are always talking about it.”

A judge has ruled Eric Williams will now stand trial in Rockwall County instead of Kaufman County to help ensure an impartial jury is seated.

A tentative trial date is set for October 20th.

Herrington works across from the courthouse, and believes while people may still be talking — for the most part, life is back to normal.  “It’s just a senseless, senseless tragedy with no winners, and we all lose.”

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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