Judge: Connection in Texas D.A. Shootings "Obvious"

The bodies of the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife were found this weekend, two months after the assistant D.A. was gunned down

By Jeff Smith
|  Monday, Apr 1, 2013  |  Updated 1:00 PM PDT
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The murder of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia may be linked to the murder of ADA Mark Hasse.

Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News

The murder of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia may be linked to the murder of ADA Mark Hasse.

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A Texas judge said the connection between this weekend's double-murder of his county's district attorney and his wife with the slaying of his top prosecutor earlier this year is "obvious."

The bodies of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were found Saturday afternoon.

The couple had been shot in their Forney, Texas, home nearly two months to the day after Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down while walking toward the county courthouse.

Sheriff's deputies have not definitively linked the gruesome killings but said a connection was likely.

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Investigators continue to look into the murders of Kaufman County DA Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia, who were found dead in their home over the weekend.

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"This was not just a random act. It seems to me there has to be some connection," Judge Bruce Wood said.

Wood said investigators so far have not found physical evidence directly linking the murders and officials have not named any suspects.

As dozens of Kaufman County employees went to work Monday morning, they had heavy hearts — but they also had an armed escort. Police officers and sheriff's deputies walked with staffers right up to the front door.

"They're concerned, definitely. We're all definitely concerned," said Jim Donaldson, an investigator with the district attorney's office.

The courthouse is open for business, but the district attorney's office is closed to the public. There's also heightened security inside and outside the courthouse, with police cruisers stationed at every corner Monday morning.

There are 14 prosecutors in the county and a staff of about 30 people in the district attorney's office. Many employees said they considered taking the day off.

"I could have, yes, but it's my responsibility to be at work," said clerk's office employee Imelda Saldana. "It's confusing. It's scary."

Wood admits his safety, and his family's safety, is first on his mind today with a killer still on the loose.

"To say that we're not concerned would not be truthful," Wood said.

Following Hasse's murder, McLelland had a direct message for the killer: "We are going to find you, we are going to pull you out of whatever hole you are in, we're going to bring you back and we're going to let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," McLelland said in January.

Wood was asked if that bold statement cost McLelland his life.

"To go back and say this was retribution for something he said or didn't say, I mean, the district attorney's office deals with a lot of bad issues," Wood said. "For me to think that something he said, or some action he took, caused this, I just don't know."

Meanwhile, all of the Kaufman County judges were meeting Monday to discuss how to move forward with criminal cases now that the district attorney and his top assistant are gone. They were also to speak with Gov. Rick Perry's office Monday about getting a new district attorney in place as soon as possible.

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