ROCKWALL, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – In their efforts to save him from the death penalty, defense lawyers tried to convince a jury that former JP Eric Williams’ murderous rage was triggered by a wrongful conviction, orchestrated by a “cluster of powerful people” in East Texas.
Defense attorney Maxwell Peck said Williams was “arrested in humiliating fashion,” and his “livelihood” destroyed as a lawyer and justice of the peace, in a burglary and theft of three computers in Kaufman in 2012.
Williams was convicted last week of capital murder in the deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia, which prosecutors say was driven by Williams’ rage over the 2012 convictions.
He is also charged in the shooting death of Mark Hasse, the DA’s first assistant in the case.
In a bizarre turn in the trial, a job application form filled out by Williams in the jail showed that he identified himself as “Christ, Jesus,” and that his “previous employer” was “God the Father.”
Williams also listed on the form his skills as a carpenter, and “can turn water to wine, can multiply fish and bread, heal the sick and raise the dead.”
Called as the defense’s first witness, Kaufman lawyer Jenny Parks said Williams, as an elected official in Kaufman County, had fallen victim to a stormy political environment in 2012.
“It was a ridiculous prosecution,” Parks told the jury. “He should have never been brought to court for the things they said he did.
“I think he was wrongfully convicted,” she said of the 2012 conviction.
Defense attorney Matthew Seymour also asked Parks whether she’d heard Hasse “brag” about prosecuting Williams.
But before she could answer, the state objected and Judge Mike Snipes told Parks not to answer.
The defense called other witnesses in an effort to portray Williams as a model prisoner who regularly attended Bible studies in the jail.
Peck appealed to the jurors that “it would be easy to saddle up with anger,” but that they should “save the community from one more tragedy, instead of killing another person to make it right.”
He also told jurors: “You can be certain Eric is not a continuing threat.
“If Eric’s motive was revenge, then his revenge has been delivered,” Peck said.
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