One step in the legal saga of convicted killer Eric Williams concluded Wednesday when the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas – the state’s highest court for criminal cases – unanimously confirmed the trial court’s guilty verdict and death sentence.
Williams, now 50, was sentenced to die for the March 30, 2013 murder of Cynthia McLelland in her Forney home.
The wife of District Attorney Mike McLelland died in the same attack that killed the district attorney. It came two months after McLelland’s chief prosecutor, Mark Hasse, was gunned down in the street just a block from the county courthouse in downtown Kaufman Jan. 31.
The appeal, which is automatic to the Court of Appeals in a death penalty case, named 40 points of error.
In a unanimous decision, the court found the 40 to be without merit.
The court’s 110-page decision addressed each point step by step, starting with points 22 and 40 involving the sufficiency of evidence to support the conviction and the finding of future danger in assessing the death penalty.
Points one to 13 involved jury selection and points 14 and 15 had to do with jury bias. Point 16 involved the verdict form.
The next several points involved defense objections to various trial evidence and testimony, such as the state’s expert witness on ballistics. And during the punishment phase, a video of the Hasse crime scene.
Additional points involved the court overruling motions for continuances and new trials, as well as jury instructions.
Death penalty appeals have been known to take more than a decade. Williams is not quite three years into that process, having been convicted in December 2014.
His attorneys have received three extensions to examine the voluminous evidence in the case for his writ of habeas corpus. The most recent six-month extension goes until Jan. 8, 2018.