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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Less than a month after being told he would be put to death for killing a district attorney and his wife, the state has agreed to have former Justice of the Peace Eric Williams examined to see if his murderous rampage was triggered by a damaged brain.
His exam was scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Thursday. At taxpayer expense, Williams was moved from his death row prison cell in Livingston to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, to undergo a brain scan.
Such a move was initially denied by state District Judge Mike Snipes, who presided over the trial that found Williams guilty, and sentenced him to death.
Sources tell CBS 11’s I-Team that defense lawyers pushed for the examination, in hopes that it will show that health reasons, possibly caused by diabetes, affected Williams’ brain, driving him to shoot and kill Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia, the night before Easter Sunday 2013.
After the sentencing of Williams, Judge Snipes retired from the bench, leaving appeals to state District Judge Webb Biard of Paris, Texas, who ultimately granted Williams’ wishes for a brain exam.
Sources have told the I-Team that defense lawyers hope that any medical proof that Williams is mentally disabled will result in the dismissal of the conviction and the need for a new trial. If that doesn’t happen, the sources say, Williams is hoping the test results will at least lessen his punishment, sparing him from the death chambers.
The McLellands’ bullet-riddled bodies were found in their home in Forney, east of Dallas, two months after Mike McLelland’s top prosecutor, Mark Hasse, was gunned down as he walked to the county courthouse in Kaufman.
Williams is also charged with capital murder in Hasse’s death, with prosecutors proving in trial that he acted out of rage and revenge because Hasse and the DA had prosecuted him for felony theft of county computer equipment a year earlier.
The conviction cost Williams – a former honors student and Eagle Scout – his job as a lawyer and as an elected Justice of the Peace in Kaufman County.
The county auditor’s office shows that taxpayers have so far paid just under $350,000 to prosecute Williams, with an additional $20,577 being spent on his estranged wife, Kim, who pleaded guilty to being an accomplice and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Thursday’s examination of Williams was not expected to be expensive, costing taxpayers only a few hundred dollars, according to a medical source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The I-Team has also learned that, in tragic irony, Mike McLelland helped the county acquire from the state so-called “murder insurance” to help defray the cost in the event of a capital murder case – such as the one that several months later left him and his wife dead.
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