Texas prosecutor slain in his home had armed himself


A Kaufman County Sheriff's deputy walks near the taped-off property of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, near Forney, Texas, on Sunday. (Mike Fuentes/AP)
March 31, 2013

and Nicholas Riccardi

Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland took no chances after one of his assistant prosecutors was gunned down two months ago. McLelland said he carried a gun everywhere he went and was extra careful when answering the door at his home.

“I’m ahead of everybody else because, basically, I’m a soldier,” the 23-year Army veteran said in an interview less than two weeks ago.

On Saturday, he and his wife were found shot to death in their rural home outside the town of Forney, about 20 miles from Dallas.

While investigators gave no motive for the killings, Forney Mayor Darren Rozell said: “It appears this was not a random act.”


This Jan. 31, 2013, photo shows Mike McLelland, left, District Attorney of Kaufman County, as he answers questions at a news conference. McLelland and his wife were found dead in their home Saturday (David Woo/AP)

“Everybody’s a little on edge and a little shocked,” he said.

The slayings came less than two weeks after Colorado’s prison chief was shot to death at his front door, apparently by an ex-convict, and a couple of months after Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was killed in a parking lot a block from his courthouse office. No arrests have been made in Hasse’s Jan. 31 slaying.

McLelland, 63, is the 13th prosecutor killed in the United States since the National District Attorneys Association began keeping count in the 1960s.

Sheriff David Byrnes would not give details Sunday on how the killings unfolded and said there was nothing to indicate for certain whether McLelland’s slaying was connected to Hasse’s.

El Paso County, Colo., sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Joe Roybal said investigators had found no evidence connecting the Texas killings to the Colorado case, but added, “We’re examining all possibilities.”

Colorado’s corrections director, Tom Clements, was killed March 19 when he answered the doorbell at his home outside Colorado Springs. Evan Spencer Ebel, a white supremacist and former Colorado inmate suspected of shooting Clements, died in a shootout with Texas deputies two days later about 100 miles from Kaufman.

McLelland, in an Associated Press interview shortly after the Colorado slaying, raised the possibility that Hasse was gunned down by a white supremacist gang.

McLelland, elected in 2010, said his office had prosecuted several cases against racist gangs, who have a strong presence around Kaufman County, a mostly rural area dotted with subdivisions, with a population of about 104,000.

“We put some real dents in the Aryan Brotherhood around here in the past year,” he said.

In recent years, the district attorney’s office also prosecuted a case in which a justice of the peace was found guilty of theft and burglary and another case in which a man was convicted of killing his former girlfriend and her 10-year-old daughter.

McLelland said he carried a gun everywhere he went, even to walk his dog around town, a bedroom community for the Dallas area. He thought assassins were more likely to try to attack him outside, and he said he had warned all his employees to be constantly alert.

“The people in my line of work are going to have to get better at it,” he said of dealing with the danger, “because they’re going to need it more in the future.”

The number of attacks on prosecutors, judges and senior law enforcement officers in the United States has spiked in the past three years, according to Glenn McGovern, an investigator with the Santa Clara County, Calif., district attorney’s office who tracks such cases.

For about a month after Hasse’s slaying, sheriff’s deputies were parked in the district attorney’s driveway, said Sam Rosander, a McLelland neighbor.

The FBI and the Texas Rangers joined the investigation into the McLelland slayings.

McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, 65, were the parents of two daughters and three sons. One son is a police officer in Dallas. The couple had moved into the home a few years ago, Rozell said.

“Real friendly, became part of our community quickly,” Rozell said. “They were a really pleasant, happy couple.”

— Associated Press

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