Texas prosecutors on edge after second murder in Kaufman Co. DA office

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on March 31, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 1 at 7:06 PM

DALLAS -- Prosecutors across the state have been warned to be on guard while federal authorities try to figure out who killed Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia.

What is troubling many is they have no idea if this is the work of a prison gang, a lone-wolf type, or a personnel vendetta.

In a news conference right after the murder of Kaufman County Assistant D.A. Mark Hasse on Jan. 31, McLelland said, “When you deal with bad people on a daily basis, you run the risk something bad can happen to you."

Since Hasse’s murder, there's been a lot of speculation about who killed him. One of the angles widely reported is that it might have been the work of a white supremacist prison gang in Texas.

But, in his own words, McLelland downplayed that. He told News 8 in a recent e-mail that Hasse, "...had received no threats from any prison gang," "He sure wasn't scared of anyone he prosecuted," and "His dealings with Aryan Brotherhood cases we handled was strictly peripheral."

In November, a grand jury in Houston indicted more than 30 senior brotherhood leaders on racketeering charges. Kaufman County prosecutors helped in that case.

At that time, Texas prison officials warned prosecutors the brotherhood was planning to retaliate against them. But so far, there's been no real connection to Hasse’s murder or the McLelland murders.

Roberta Clark is with the Anti Defamation League, which monitors hate groups.

“We know about white supremacist gangs," Clark said. "We know how violent they are, we know how racist they are, and anti-Semitic they are, but we don't know if they are involved."

And because no one knows for sure, district attorney's offices across the state are concerned.

In an interview after the Hasse murder, Dallas County D.A. Craig Watkins said his prosecutors needed better protection and the county should pay for it.

"This shines a light that D.A.'s, like any other law enforcement officer, they have to have security, but for whatever reason we don't have that," he said.

What prosecutors don't know is if the cases are isolated to Kaufman County, or if there's a hit list targeting others, and that is keeping everyone on edge.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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