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Update 5:10 p.m. – Defense attorney have rested their case in the punishment phase of the Eric Williams trial. The jury is expected to hear from possible rebuttal witnesses and closing arguments on Tuesday.
ROCKWALL (CBSDFW.COM) — The jury that will decide whether former JP Eric Williams should live or die for killing a district attorney and his wife heard a brief exchange in court today that suggested Williams cheated on his wife with another woman.
A defense lawyer immediately objected when lead prosecutor Bill Wirskye asked Cathy Adams, a close friend of Williams, whether she knew of the extramarital relationship.
Wirskye told the judge that Adams “opened the door” by first describing Williams as a good husband.
Adams also told the jury that prosecutors, after convicting Williams of earlier, unrelated crimes in 2012, mocked him by hanging a large picture of him on a wall with the wording, “captured.”
And outside the presence of the jury, Adams, a former lawyer, said a prosecutor Williams is accused of killing in a revenge attack use to refer to Williams as my “thief friend.”
The jury also heard from Williams’ elderly mother, Jessie Williams, which was presented in a taped deposition, rather than in person, because the she is in ill health.
“He was a good kid,” she said, beginning to cry. “I didn’t have that much problem with him.”
Earlier today, in anticipation that Williams’ estranged wife Kim will testify against him, defense lawyers called several witnesses who described her as “money hungry” and “very in to herself.”
Kim Williams has not testified so far against her husband, who has been convicted of capital murder in the killings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia.
But there is speculation that she will be called as a “rebuttal” witness by prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for the March 30, 2013, murders.
Like her husband, Kim Williams is jailed and charged with capital murder as an accomplice in the deaths of the McLellands.
Eric and Kim Williams also face the same charge in the fatal shooting of McLelland’s top prosecutor, Mark Hasse, on Jan. 31, 2013.
Police have said the killings were acts of revenge, triggered by McLelland and Hasse having convicted Williams of burglary and theft a year earlier. The convictions cost him his jobs as a local lawyer and justice of the peace.
Kim Williams, who filed for divorce once the couple was arrested, has been seen as a potential star witness for the prosecution, waiting in the wings in case the state wanted her to tell the jury – first hand – about her husband’s murderous rampage.
And while she was not seen during the guilt-innocence portion of the trial, there is much speculation she’ll be called as a final witness during rebuttal, likely tomorrow, just before the jury begins deliberating on whether the ex-JP should receive life in prison, or be executed.
So the defense today began the trial by calling two sisters who are Kim Williams’ distant relatives.
“She was money hungry” and always wanted to “make sure her hair was perfect …her makeup was perfect…,” Heather Jones told the jury.
Sister Andrea Jones added that Kim Williams was “very in to herself,” while her husband often worked late and usually missed dinners.
“Did Kim mind that he missed dinner?” defense lawyer Maxwell Peck asked.
“No,” Andrea Jones said.
Amid repeated objections by prosecutors, the defense also called witnesses – including a former district attorney – in an effort to show that Williams’ convictions for theft and burglary were unjust and politically motivated by McLelland and Hasse.
Lawyer Rick Harrison said Williams campaigned on his behalf when he beat McLelland in a 2006 election runoff to become Kaufman County district attorney.
Part of that support, Harrison told jurors, included Williams distributing a letter to potential voters, besmirching McLelland and saying “integrity and character” needed to be considered when selecting the next DA.
But Harrison was not allowed to answer when asked whether he felt McLelland, after being elected district attorney four years later, still “harbored a grudge” against Williams for campaigning against him.
“The jury will disregard this line of questioning,” Judge Mike Snipes said at one point.
The defense had no better success in calling witnesses to say there was a reason Williams, as a lawyer and elected JP, needed the three computer monitors he was ultimately convicted of stealing from a county supply room.
“He was interested in …doing a good job,” Kaufman lawyer Mark Calabria told the jury, in one of the few questions Calabria was allowed to answer.
He added: “Eric was always kind of a new-era type of lawyer.”
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