KAUFMAN (CBSDFW.COM) – Five days before he went on trial for the case that rocked Kaufman County, disgraced Justice of the Peace Eric Williams claimed he was Jesus Christ on Rockwall County jail paperwork.
The document surfaced during the punishment phase of the trial as Williams’ lawyers presented their case why the jury shouldn’t sentence him to death.
Last week, jurors convicted Williams of murdering Kaufman County DA Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia. On Wednesday, jurors saw the inmate worker request form Williams filled out November 26.
He wrote Jesus Christ was his name, and that he was applying for the position of lord and savior. Williams wrote he had helped heal the sick and raise the dead. The jail filled out an incident report, and the jail administrator, Robert Guzik, told the jury about Williams and the paperwork. “He quoted some Bible verses. Surely not a routine worker form that would be filled out wishing to work inside the facility.”
Guzik said Williams wasn’t punished because it wasn’t perceived to be a threat.
Most of the people who testified on Williams’ behalf Wednesday were jail personnel or ministers who worked with inmates. During opening statements, Williams’ attorney Maxwell Peck told the jury that after they convicted Williams, “We know it would be easy to sidle up to anger now, to insist that life without the possibility of parole isn’t bad enough, to pronounce Eric Williams is deader than dead and call it a day.”
But Peck cautioned jurors against rushing to sentence Williams to death. “A family has lost their parents and grandparents. A mother has lost her son. Another mother now stands to lose hers as well, but think about the good Eric could do in prison counseling fellow inmates.”
One of Williams’ friends, Jenny Parks, criticized Williams’ prosecution for stealing county computers in 2012.
Prosecutors in the murder case, have repeatedly argued it was after that 2012 conviction, that Williams plotted his revenge killings against the McLellands and top assistant DA Mark Hasse.
Parks told the jury, “It was a ridiculous prosecution. He should never have been brought to court for what they say he did. Eric always did positive things for the county.” Peck tried to reassure jurors, “If Eric’s motive was revenge, then his revenge has been delivered and Eric is no longer a risk. We must stay in line with life without a possibility of parole.”
But the final witnesses who testified for prosecutors Wednesday morning painted a very different picture of Williams.
Janice Gray recalled the time 20 years ago she was at a restaurant with friends when her ex-boyfriend, Eric Williams, showed up and told her he wanted her back.
Gray told jurors, “He said I have a gun and he said if you walk away, I’ll use it, I have nothing to lose.” She says she cried, and her friends came over to help. Nothing happened after that.
Another prosecution witness, Dennis Jones, is a current Kaufman County judge who used to share an office with Williams when they were private attorneys. He said four years ago, Williams came in angry, and made threatening statements against another lawyer. Jones said, “I was at my desk and heard his voice, heard him say I’m just going to kill him, I’m going to kill him, his wife, his kids, I’m going to burn his house down, stab him. That’s it.”
Nothing happened to the other lawyer.
Prosecutors never called Williams’ estranged wife Kim, who’s also charged in the murders, to testify against him. Barry Sorrels, a Dallas attorney who has tried death penalty cases and who is observing the Williams trial, says prosecutors may still put her on the witness stand if they feel it’s necessary during their rebuttal.
But Sorrels says prosecutors weighed the benefits to putting Kim Williams on the stand. He believes she wasn’t needed. “Their case has been so persuasive on all of the relevant issues that they don’t need to put someone on the stand who was willing participant in these three murders. It’s a two-edged sword, probably some good things for the state, probably other things that could hurt their case.”
Before they wrapped up their case, prosecutors played for the jury an interview Williams did after the murders with a Houston TV station.
During that interview, Williams was on his Segway, and said, “My heart-felt condolences go out to both the McLelland family and the Hasse family because they were in public office, doing the right thing, and for some reason, that we’re not aware of, paid the ultimate price for that.”
But authorities had already been closing in on Williams, and days later, they arrested and charged him with the three murders.