Monday, April 8, 2013
Has Intimidation and Murder Threatening to Destroy the Right To Trial in Texas?
Be careful what you do, for mob mentality may destroy our fundamental principles of justice. The consequences may be severe and contrary to the vary principles you claim to support. So ask yourself, do you really want to destroy the legal system to the point that suspects are imprisoned without any right to trial? Because if the legal system won't work because of murder and intimidation, the end result may be an immediate transition directly from suspect to prisoner without the benefit of our constitutional rights.
Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were recently murdered. McLelland belonged to a multi-agency task force investigating the Aryan Brotherhood. McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot to death Saturday just outside of Forney, Texas. Investigators speculate that the white supremacist group may be responsible. In addition, Jay Hileman, an assistant U.S. attorney in Houston has allegedly withdrawn from a large racketeering case against the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas presumably out of fear for his life. These unthinkable events have occurred two months after one of the county's assistant district attorneys, Mark Hasse, was killed near his courthouse office. (Hasse died on Jan. 31 came the same day as the first guilty pleas were entered in a criminal indictment involving a white supremist group. No arrests have been made with regard to the Hasse murder.)
Richard O. Ely II, a Houston defense attorney for one of the defendants, told The Dallas Morning News that Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman recently informed him that he was withdrawing from the case. "I understand why someone would want to step back.... "It makes sense to me, especially people that have families," Ely told Houston television station KTRK-TV. In the mean time, another Justice Department prosecutor, from Washington, D.C., will replace Hileman. David Karpel, a lawyer with the Justice Department's gang unit is also assigned to the case.
56-year-old Nick Morale has been arrested on a charge of making a terrorist threat; however, there is no evidence that his arrest is connected to any death. Morale allegedly called a tip line the killings of McLelland and his wife Cynthia. He allegedly threaten a specific county official; however, nothing links Morale to the McLellands' deaths or the killing of Hasse. Morale is not a suspect in either case.
According to the Times, an unknown person wrote on a social networking site that the killings were "acts of revenge against the tyrannical, unjust, Pit Bull style treatment of every poor soul damned to do business in the Kaufman County courthouse." The writer also inferred that another Kaufman prosecutor "...will soon perish, bringing closure to an era of unacceptable practices and allowing Kaufman County residents to move forward with liberty and justice."
FBI out of Dallas has publicized few leads. However, it is believed that tire tracks and cigarette butts near the McLelland home may lead to the apprehension of suspects in the shooting. The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has been in the prison system for a long time. The group is believed to have over 4,000 members and is accused of violence and retribution both inside and outside of the penal system. The gang has a military like structure with a chain of command. Four top leaders and 26 other alleged members were indicted in October for various crimes. Law enforcement subsequently warned that the gang members might retaliate against law enforcement. However, to be clear, law enforcement has not publicly accused the Aryan Brotherhood as being involved with the killings. However, a Texas Department of Public Safety bulletin has warned of "mass casualties or death" to law enforcement officials involved in the recent case.
To date, there has been little word from the Aryan Brotherhood; however, even law enforcement representatives admit it would be uncharacteristic of the group to kill public officials. The group is thought to operate on the outside of prison in the shadows of drug trafficking and prostitution. Consequently, murder of law enforcement and open intimidation would not be typical of the group. Yet an 18-count indictment previously filed accused certain gang members of being involved with murders or rival gang members, kidnappings, assaults and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.
Keep in mind, these are unproven allegations at this point in time. As always all suspects and persons of interest are to be presumed innocent. Furthermore, in the past the Aryan Brotherhood has been an advocate of the right to trial by jury and many of their accused have benefited from the legal system. Consequently, one must question why suddenly the gang's top leadership would take action to destroy the vary system of justice which has protected them in the past? Perhaps the leadership has lost control of its members as the gang has recently been linked to perhaps as many as 100 killings.
In the meantime, Mike McLelland and his wife have been laid to rest. Many have criticized the inadequate $200,000 reward that has been offered for information about these murders. While retribution by criminals, victims and family members has always been a risk to law enforcement and prosecutors, this has gone outside the realm of expectations. These murders threaten the core of our vary legal system. Interim District Attorney Brandi Fernandez, is under 24-hour protection. She has assured the public that "...we're gonna get this job done." Hopefully she is right. If not, the legal system of justice which has served this country well for over 220 years could be in jeopardy and that will be a tragedy for all.
4-17-13 Update: Our sources appear to be right again! This does not appear to be the work of the Aryan Brotherhood. (This group is usually smart enough not to make threats on the computer.) Kim Williams, 46, has been arrested on suspicion of pulling the trigger in the three homicides. Her husband, Eric Williams, may also be charged in the deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, as well as Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse. The motive appears to be clear. Williams lost his elected position of justice of the peace after he was convicted of stealing three computer monitors. McLelland and Hasse prosecuted the case against Williams.
Keep in mind all suspects are innocent unless proven otherwise in a court of law!