After Closing Arguments - A Jury of Twelve Convicts Judge on Two Counts
Post Managing Editor
On Thursday afternoon the trial of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams began winding down as both Attorney’s called the last of their witnesses, and rebuttal witnesses, and then moved on to Closing Arguments.
The Defense Attorney, David Sergi, alluded to a lot of evidence but in actuality he only put two witnesses on the stand to defend the actions of Defendant Williams, and in the end, Eric Williams, declined to testify in his own defense.
Forensic Computer Expert, Lenith Wilburn Derryberry, and Defendant Williams' Justice of the Peace Secretary, Regina Fogerty, were the only Defense witnesses.
Witness Regina Fogerty, testified that the Defendant frequently carried a large brief case in and out of the building, and that she had personally given him a tour of the building upon his election.
Fogerty testified that she remembers pointing out the closet, just outside the J.P. Court office, where the courts Digital Video Recorder (DVR) is kept and she testified that she remembers that she did not open the closet in front of Defendant Williams.
However, the closet was not kept locked and Witness Fogerty testified that she remembers telling Defendant Williams that she wasn’t even sure if the surveillance equipment worked.
Testifying in support of the Defense’s theory that Eric Williams was unconcerned about the buildings video surveillance system because he did not feel he was doing anything wrong, the Prosecution recalled Witness, Lori Freimel.
Witness Freimel testified that the Sub-courthouse consist of an older building which is connected to a new building, and that the old Jail cells are still accessible between the two structures.
Because of the buildings horizontal layout, it has two DVR camera surveillance systems. One DVR system that captures video surveillance on the J. P. Courts end of the building, and another DVR system that records the IT Department, end of the building.
Witness Freimel testified that the DVR system located in the closet just outside the J.P. Courts office had been removed for repairs.
And that only the DVR housed within the IT Department was recording at the time of Defendant Williams after-hours visits to the IT Department.
The Defense officially rested just minutes after four o’clock and Judge Chitty released the Jury early for the day so that the official charges could be prepared.
Instructing the Jury, yet again, to not read the newspaper, go on the Internet or speak to anyone regarding the trial, the Jury would return on Friday morning to hear Closing Statements, and then to deliberate the fate of Eric L. Williams.
In a courtroom packed with Attorney’s, Judge’s, business owners and most assuredly the taxpayers of Kaufman County, Closing Statements in the case of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams commenced on time, Friday morning.
Required to go first, Defense Attorney, David K. Sergi, stated “In describing Eric, I would call him a Dudley-do-Right. He means well but he doesn’t always go about it the right way.”
Defense Attorney, Sergi, explained “He was deeply involved in setting up the County’s Video Magistrate program. But he went about it the wrong way. He made a mistake. He stepped on the toes of George York. There was no intent by Eric. He just wanted to upgrade the J.P. office, frankly to the 20th, not even the 21st Century.”
Continuing, Defense Attorney, Sergi, stated “Think about this. They never found a single item off the list from the Law Library orders. They did not find one item in his house or his car. There was a reason for every item ordered, and now they have ruined Eric’s good character and reputation in this county. Why are these people out to get Eric? What game are they playing?””
Raising his voice for emphasis, Defense Attorney, Sergi, stated “Judge Wood is an honorable man but I don’t think he understood what was happening here. Something is wrong with what’s going on. A life changing event has just happened.
An elected official has just been arrested and he doesn’t have a guilty conscience because he made a dumb, stupid mistake. His mistake was to not understand how the game is played here. Even in his letter to Judge Wood, Eric still had some faith. He admits he did something wrong and realized he should have done it a different way.”
In closing, Defense Attorney, Sergi said “At the end of the day the standard you have to look for is beyond a reasonable doubt. What does that mean to you? He did not have intent. He made a stupid mistake. You are his voice. You are the constitution. You have his life in your hands. The DA will get up here next and paint an evil picture of Eric. He’s not evil. He was trying to save the County money and he did it the wrong way, he bulldozed his way in. There is only one Verdict you can come to, Not Guilty.”
In a room so quiet you could here a pin drop, Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney, Mark Hasse, opened by stating, “Eric Williams is an elected official and he is a theft. You gave him the key to the J. P. office and he stole from you. In his police interview he admits to taking the back route ten times. We only have him on tape three times. What was he doing those other times? He was casing the place, sneaking around, coming in the back door.”
Prosecutor Hasse said, “The Defendant never confessed to taking a third monitor. He said maybe he returned one because it did not work with his computer. He said he took one monitor for the Jail, but nine days later it was still in the J.P. office. Why? Because he was stealing those monitors.”
Seeming to have waited for his opportunity to explain, Asst. D.A., Mark Hasse, adamantly stated “The Defense Attorney mentioned that we had not found anything in the Defendant’s house or private office. None of the items from the Law Library invoices were found, and the Defendant voluntarily let the police search. Well, he knew they would not find anything in either place because he stole the stuff and therefore he knew exactly where he put it. He is not accused of stealing money from the Law Library. He used the Law Library Fund to supply his office with toys.”
Clear and to the point, Prosecutor Hasse said, “The Defendant’s actions are incredible beyond belief and stupid. Do we really need to do an official County memo that says do not steal from the County. Do not circumvent the county’s security measures. And the letter to Judge Wood that he hands him directly, hoping that Judge Wood will be a crooked official like he is, and asking him to use his influence to intervene in the investigation.”
Facing the Jury with his arms folded across his chest, Prosecutor Hasse, stressed “The Defendant did not ask Judge Wood to investigate to help clear this up because he is innocent. In the letter he accepts responsibility. He says I’ve done something wrong, and I’ve learned my lesson, hoping for some kind of back-door favor. He is an elected public servant and he a theft and a liar. We ask you to find him guilty.”
The Jury in the case of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams left the courtroom at 10:45 a.m. on Friday morning. A panel of six women and six men adjourned, ironically enough, to a small conference room right next door to the Kaufman County Law Library.
Sending word to Judge Chitty that they would prefer to work through the lunch hour, pizza was delivered and the Jurors reviewed their notes and deliberated until 2:30 p.m. when they sent word to the Judge that they had reached a Verdict.
Fifteen minutes later, Eric L. Williams, flanked by two attorneys stood facing Judge Chitty and a Jury of twelve citizens from Kaufman County.
Former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace, Eric L. Williams, was found Guilty on one count of Burglary of a Building, and one count of Theft of more than $ 500.00 but less than $ 1500., by a Public Servant.
A long and strenuous five day trial, Judge B. Michael Chitty thanked the Jury for their service to Kaufman County and released them from their duty.
Kaufman County District Attorney, Mike McLelland met and thanked the Jurors as they prepared to leave, as did Defense Attorney, David Sergi.
Commenting on the outcome of the trial, Kaufman County District Attorney, Mike McLelland said “This sends a clear cut message that there will no longer be, who-you-know, back-door favors happening in the District Attorney’s office. Criminals, and especially elected officials, will be held to a higher standard. So don’t come to Kaufman County and screw-up.”
Speaking to The Forney Post, Defense Attorney, David Sergi, said, “Justice was not served. There were serious errors made in this trial. We will definitely be filing an appeal of this verdict.”
When Defense Attorney, Sergi, was asked if he had any comments for the residents of Kaufman County, he replied “It sets a dangerous president when you can get a conviction with evidence that’s been tampered with. They only heard half of the story, we were deprived of telling the other half.”
Earning and deserving the last word, Jury # 119, whose identity will be withheld, stated, “For me logic plays a big part in life. I learned in Kindergarten that it is not okay to take something, that is not mine. The majority of our deliberations were on count 1.
We just did not buy the tampering with the evidence theory. Was it wrong to be in the IT area? Then he is seen on the video tapes entering someplace he is not suppose to be, and even though he had an all access card, he did not use it. It showed a pattern of behavior that escalated to criminal.”
There were no applause, or cheers, jeers or laughter as the court house emptied of its many spectators. No one, most especially not the Defendant, was happy to see the Kaufman County Judicial system on display is such a manner.
Eric L. Williams will remain free on bond pending his Sentencing Hearing which has been scheduled for April 9, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
County Judge Wood Testifies About Amazingly Inappropriate Letter
Post Managing Editor
Taking the stand for at least the third time in the case of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams, Lori Freimel, was asked to describe computer equipment listed on invoices created from purchases made by Defendant Williams, on an account set-up for the Kaufman County Law Library.
Prosecutor Hasse requested Witness Freimel read aloud each invoice, first referencing its evidence number, and then reading and describing the various computer and office supply items listed.
Witness Freimel read from over a dozen invoices, and the list of items purchased included several sizes and variations of USB thumb-drives and camera chips, along with several large door-stops, high quality stereo/gaming headphones, gel pens, calendars, a calculator, a wall clock, utility scissors and several boxes of latex gloves.
These items were shipped from Terrell Office Supply to Defendant Williams private office, and none of these items have ever been recovered.
Returning to testimony in the primary Burglary and Theft trial, the Jurors next listened intently as Kaufman County Judge, Bruce Wood, was sworn-in by Judge B. Michael Chitty, to give testimony against suspended Justice of the Peace, Eric Wiliams.
It is unlikely the irony was missed by anyone in the court room, as this unusual case moved forward to reveal some alarming testimony.
County Judge, Bruce Wood, testified that within his capacity as the Chief Administrative Judge for Kaufman County, it is part of his many duties to prepare the County’s Fiscal Budget, and therefore he must work with each Precinct Judge on their respective department budget.
Witness Wood testified that he had a Budget Meeting scheduled with Defendant Williams regarding the J.P. Precinct 1 Budget. And that when Defendant Williams arrived at his office for the pre-scheduled meeting, Williams stated that prior to getting started with the meeting he wished to address the “Big Elephant” within the room.
Clearly referring to his being under investigation for Burglary and Theft, Defendant Williams gave Judge Wood an unsigned letter that Prosecutor Hasse admitted into evidence, and then requested Judge Wood read aloud to the Jury.
Unbelievably and against the advice of his Attorney at the time, Defendant Williams officially requested that Judge Wood intervene into the investigation of his crimes by using his influence with the District Attorney’s office.
Defendant, Eric L. Williams, an educated and licensed Attorney, and an elected Justice of the Peace, felt compelled to request that Kaufman County Judge, Bruce Wood, “use his influence to deescalate the situation before it goes any further.”
Defendant Williams simply looked at the table before him as Judge Wood read the letter which also stated, “I have already learned my lesson by being arrested and removed from my office in handcuffs, and by being the subject of embarrassing media coverage that I’ve had to explain to my family.”
Prosecutor Hasse questioned Judge Wood about what he did upon being handed the letter by Defendant Willams.
To which Judge Wood replied, “I read the letter and then set it to the side and told Judge Williams that it would be inappropriate for me to intervene. And then I started the budget meeting we had scheduled.”
When Defense Attorney, Sergi cross-examined Judge Wood, he chose not to question him on the letter but instead questioned him on his decision to appoint former, Precinct 1, J.P., Johnny Perry, to the Precinct 1 Court, after Defendant Williams was suspended from the bench pending this case.
Judge Wood explained that the statute required him to appoint a replacement for Williams, and that the replacement criteria narrowed his choices. The replacement Judge had to have at least four and a half year prior experience which narrowed his choices to Judge Johnny Perry and Judge, Don T. Cates.
Judge Wood explained that Judge Don T. Cates, due to illness, had not completed his last term in office and had been replaced by Judge Ashcroft. Therefore, he didn’t qualify under the statute which left only Judge, Johnny Perry.
Defense Attorney, Sergi, inquired if Judge Wood knew he could appoint a Judge from Dallas County, or another surrounding county. To which Judge Wood responded, “Yes, I knew I could. I chose not to.”
Sharp as a tack, Prosecutor, Mark Hasse, expertly delivered the evidence to the Jury and rested the State’s case against Eric Williams shortly after the testimony of Judge Wood, late on Wednesday afternoon.
Upon arrival in Court on Thursday morning, Judge Chitty announced that a Juror had been dismissed due to illness and that the Alternate Juror had been officially sworn-in.
Opening for the Defense, Attorney, David K. Sergi, had the opportunity to defend his client actions, and did so by bringing forth an expert witness that specializes in forensic computer investigations.
During his Opening Statement, Attorney Sergi, stated that he would prove to the Jury that an unidentifiable individual, within the Kaufman County IT Department, had purposely tampered with the video tape evidence.
The Defense supported their theory by calling expert Witness, Lenith Wilburn Derryberry, to the stand.
An older gentleman with white hair and a white mustache, Derryberry was hired by the Defense to prove that an entire section of video files had been altered to reflect different dates than when originally captured.
Before the questioning of Witness Derryberry could even begin, a heated discussion ensued between the Attorneys when Prosecutor Hasse challenged Witness Derryberry’s credentials as a licensed, Private Investigator.
Prosecutor Hasse challenged Witness Derryberry’s qualifications to testify as an expert witness after Derryberry confirmed that he no longer holds a State of Texas Investigators License. This license is required to perform the forensic analysis on computer files, such as the files Witness Derryberry was scheduled to testify about.
Out of the presence of the Jury, Witness Derryberry was at length questioned about his credentials and legal license to provide such expert testimony.
Witness Derryberry testified that he is retired and that he returned from retirement at the request of Defense Attorney, Sergi, specifically to assist him with this case.
Derryberry explained that he has specialized in Computer Science and Forensic Analysis since 1997, and has testified in between forty and fifty court cases. He also testified that he had previously worked with Defense Atorney, Sergi, at least fifteen times.
Witness Derryberry acknowledged that upon his retirement he let his company investigators license expire and that he and the Defense were not aware that his individual investigators license was expired until after he had begun researching this case.
Witness Derryberry explained that when this information was discovered he continued to work under the license and supervision of the Defense employed, Private Investigator, Sharon Holbrook.
After much discussion, Judge Chitty ruled that the testimony would be allowed, and Witness Derryberry took the stand immediately following the lunch break.
Lecturing the Jury, Witness Derryberry explained that there are two different kinds of viewers made to view video files, a Digital Net Viewer and a Box Viewer.
He stated that the Digital Net Viewer gave a clearer picture of the captured video but that it only captured one camera, and one camera angle, at a time. Whereas, a Box Viewer provided two camera images overlaid upon each other.
Using an overhead projector to display a picture of the video surveillance files in sequence of stored order, Witness Derryberry chose one specific video clip image with several unclear portions of the tape, as proof that someone had tampered with the listed order of the video files, in an attempt to remove evidence of Defendant Williams returning the third, never found, stolen monitor.
Witness Derryberry pointed to a large group of files on the picture and stated, “It is apparent form the modified dates of these files that someone intervened with these files. A person, not a machine, because these files are not forensically correct, these files have been tampered with.”
During a pointed cross-examination, Prosecutor Hasse, asked Witness Derryberry if while using either viewer, had he ever located video footage of Defendant Williams returning the third monitor. To which Witness Derryberry stated, “No, I didn’t.”
Now questioning Witness Derryberry before the Jury, Prosecutor Hasse, asked about Derryberry’s credentials as a Forensic Expert.
Prosecutor Hasse stated, “Do you hold any of these Certifications. An ENCE (Encase Certified Examiner), CFCE (Certified Forensic Computer Examiner), ACE (Accessdata Certified Examiner) or a CCE (Certified Computer Examiner)?
To which Defense Witness, Derryberry replied, “No, I don’t have any certifications. I have a different opinion than most, on certifications. I once went to a three day certification class and I already knew everything they were teaching so I never took another one. I don’t need them.”
On Monday, Forney Post readers will be supplied with the Closing Arguments of each Attorney, as well as, with interviews conducted with Kaufman County District Attorney, Mike McLelland, Defense Attorney, David Sergi, and with Juror’s who elected to speak with The Post regarding their deliberations and conviction verdict.
03-23-2013 10:46 p.m. with Photographic Update Below
A Slip of the Tongue Results in Unexpected Prosecution Testimony
Post Managing Editor
Absolutely kicking into high gear late on Wednesday afternoon, the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams took an unexpected turn
when Defense Attorney, David K. Sergi, made a statement that would ultimately allow evidence to be brought before the Jury that implicates Eric L. Williams in an additional crime against the State of Texas.
While wrapping up the cross-examination of Kaufman County CID Investigator, Ernie Zepeda, Defense Attorney, David Sergi referenced that Witness Zepeda had earlier testified that he and Defendant Williams,were friends.
Defense Attorney, Sergi, then stated to Witness Zepeda, “You know him. You’ve never known him to steal.” To which Witness Zepeda responded, “Not to my personal knowledge.”
Prosecutor Hasse, immediately objected to interrupt further testimony by Witness Zepeda, and requested the Jury exit the courtroom prior to his objection explanation.
After the Jury’s departure, Prosecutor Hasse expressed that Defense Attorney Sergi had “opened the door” to information previously ruled inadmissible when he asked Witness Zepeda if he had knowledge of other crimes that the Defendant may have committed.
Defense Attorney, Sergi’s. statement, even if asked unintentionally, provided Jurors with an impression of the Defendant, given to them by someone openly admitting to being Eric Williams’ friend. And therefore, the Prosecution had the right to dispute this impression.
Both Attorney's adamantly defended their positions and interpretations of the law as it pertained to this turn of events . And a full blown, back and forth discussion commenced on if this new evidence should be allowed. Subsequently, Judge Chitty ruled that Prosecutor Hasse could present the evidence.
Prosecutor Hasse informed the Court that he would bring forth two witnesses to explain that Eric L. Williams is currently being investigated in a separate case in which he is accused of illegally using funds from the Kaufman County Law Library to purchase office and computer equipment.
To no avail, Defense Attorney Sergi repeatedly objected before returning to questioning Witness Zepeda. Defense Attorney, Sergi stated, “Are you aware of any other charges against Eric Williams.” To which Witness Zepeda replied, “Yes.”
Shortly thereafter Witness Zepeda is released from testifying, and the Jury was released for afternoon break.
Later in the afternoon, Judge Chitty agreed to recess early for the day to give the Defense overnight to research their objection to his earlier ruling to allow these new witnesses, but heavily stressed, that it was very unlikely that he would change his decision.
Prior to the Jury’s arrival within the Courtroom on Thursday morning, Judge Chitty ruled that his decision would stand, and although the Defense immediately requested a Mistrial, which was denied, the Prosecutor was allowed to call two witness's, Kenneth Williams from Terrell Office Products and Kaufman County Auditor, Hal Jones.
Witness Kenneth Williams was sworn in first and described how the County had been purchasing office supplies from his family owned business for many years, and that multiple orders had been received from Defendant Williams though the company’s online ordering system.
Witness Williams described how numerous orders for supplies had been filled through their online ordering system. These orders were placed against a County account set-up for the Kaufman County Law Library, and that upon delivery of one such order, the delivery driver had brought back the shipment because there was no one present at the Kaufman County Law Library address to accept the order.
Subsequently, Defendant Eric Williams spoke to the supply company on the phone and directed the shipment to be delivered to his private office located on the Kaufman County Square, across the street from the Kaufman County Courthouse.
Witness Williams then testified that he had “read a news article” on the Defendants arrest which triggered his memory of the orders, and delivery situation. He then contacted Kaufman County Auditor, Hal Jones, to report what he thought the County might need know.
Witness Williams did not contact the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department, and apparently County Auditor, Jones, simply instructed Kenneth Williams to forward him copies of the invoices so that he could research the transactions.
County Auditor Jones at that point had no reason to inform the Sheriff’s Department because he had no proof that Defendant Williams had done anything wrong.
County Auditor, Hal Jones, was next sworn in and explained the County’s
procedures for logging in and categorizing invoices for vendor payment.
As Prosecutor Hasse and Witness Jones reviewed copies of the County invoices produced from these purchase orders, it was revealed that a large amount and variety of computer equipment and office supplies, including the unusual purchase of several boxes of latex rubber gloves, were purchased by Defendant Williams.
Witness Jones explained that as Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, and the prior to being elected, Librarian for the Kaufman County Law Library, these invoices which contained an “authorized department head signature”, were eligible for payment. And therefore, had it not been for the call from Kenneth Williams, they would not have garnered any special attention from the County Accounts Payable Department.
Terrell Office Products is an authorized County vendor and the Kaufman County Law Library is an authorized County account. And Eric Williams had been an authorized representative on that account previous to becoming the J.P. for Precinct 1, and would have been recognized as a “Department Head” in his position as the Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1.
Next, Prosecutor Hasse re-called Witness Lori Friemel to the stand to have her describe the various computer items that the invoices listed as purchased by Defendant Williams.
Post readers are invited to check back tomorrow for coverage of Lori Friemel’s testimony along with the testimony of Kaufman County Judge, Bruce Wood as the staff of The Forney Post continues to bring the citizens of Kaufman County further details of the evidence surrounding the conviction of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams.
3-23-2012 2:40 p.m.
**Breaking News** The Verdict is In!
Post Managing Editor
At 2:40 p.m. on Friday afternoon, a Jury of twelve Kaufman County citizens convicted Eric L. Williams on two charges. One count of Burglary of a Building and one count of Theft of Property by a Public Servant. Readers of the Forney Post will be provided all the news on this case as quickly as it is completed.
Check back throughout the day for continuing coverage of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams.
3-23-2012 10:54 a.m.
**Breaking News** The Jury is Out
Post Managing Editor
The Jury is Out. All the evidence is in and the Jury is now deliberating in the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams. Reaching the citizens from the Kaufman County Courthouse, The Forney Post is in the house and will immediately publish the Verdict upon announcement.
Day Three of Williams Trial Provides Interesting Testimony
Post Managing Editor
During day three, Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney, Mark Hasse, admitted clarifying testimony and additional evidence in the criminal trial of currently suspended, Kaufman County Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, Eric L. Williams.
Beginning almost on time Wednesday morning, Prosecutor Hasse, began the day by finishing up testimony given by Kaufman County IT Director, George York.
Very clearly supporting the testimony of previous Witness, Lori Friemel, Witness York confirmed the sequence of events that unfolded after Friemel discovered that Justice of the Peace, Eric Williams, had repeatedly entered the IT Department on Sundays, and that he had “without permission” removed three Dell monitors from the IT work room.
A witness that obviously did not appreciate Defense Attorney, David Sergi’s courtroom demeanor, Witness York basically affirmed the testimony of Witness Friemel, and repeatedly explained how the computer evidence had been discovered and reported.
After Witness York was excused from the stand with instructions that he could possibly be re-called for additional testimony, Prosecutor Hasse moved on to question Kaufman County Sheriff’s Captain, Ernie Zepeda.
A sixteen-year veteran of the County's Criminal Investigations Division, and a certified computer forensic expert, Captain Zepeda, was the arresting officer in this case and the officer who led the criminal investigation after it was assigned to him by his direct supervisors, Chief Deputy, Alan Richman and KCO Sheriff, David Byrnes.
Witness Zepeda was clear and to the point about his investigation and testified that he took statements from both Lori Friemel and George York, along with reviewing all the video evidence.
After doing so, Witness Zepeda explained that he felt that he had indeed viewed a crime, and that the suspects actions on the tapes seemed to follow a pattern of always entering the building on Sunday, sometime between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Captain Zepeda testified that he then installed a hidden camera within the IT workroom to see if Williams would return. And indeed on the following Sunday, Williams is again recorded entering the closed Sub-courthouse, and as before, he is repeatedly seen roaming through the darkened halls and offices of the Sub-courthouse.
Witness Zepeda also testified that he was notified by Lori Friemel that a Dell monitor box was seen next to the trash dumpster, behind the Sub-courthouse.
Zepeda retrieved the box which contained a Dell shipping label that was traced back to one of the missing monitors. The box was discovered empty of a Dell monitor but did contain the Prescription drugs of an unknown individual.
At this point, Captain Zepeda presented the case to Kaufman County District Judge, B. Michael Chitty, who issued a Search Warrant for Eric Williams, Justice of the Peace office, and for his personal vehicle.
Judge Chitty also issued an Arrest Warrant for Williams based on the evidence and the following day Captain Zepeda was accompanied by three high-ranking Sheriff’s Deputies to the J.P. Precinct 1 office to serve the warrants.
Captain Zepeda testified that Williams was surprised by the Warrants but when handcuffed and escorted from the building he was cooperative.
Defendant Williams was then transported to the County Justice Center by Assistant Chief of Operations for the Sheriff’s Department, Lieutenant, Rodney Evans and another Deputy.
Captain Zepeda and another Deputy remained at the J.P. office to conduct the search of Williams’ office and vehicle.
Witness Zepeda testified that a 19’ inch Dell monitor matching the serial number on one of the missing monitors was immediately located on Williams desk.
Next, discovering a locked closet within Williams office, Captain Zepeda located a key and upon opening the door, discovered two more monitors.
One a 17’ Dell monitor with a serial number that did not match any of the missing monitors, and the other monitor was of a different brand. Witness Zepeda testified that both of these monitors were in perfect working order.
Within the closet, Captain Zepeda also located a two-way radio along with a line of old coax computer cable, and then upon searching the office desk, located a Dell CD used for installing Dell monitors.
Completing the search of the J.P office, Captain Zepeda next located the suspect’s personal truck in the buildings parking lot, and upon searching it discovered a “partially covered up” Dell monitor that’s serial number matched one of the three missing monitors.
Witness Zepeda further testified that he also found several military style guns and a considerable amount of ammunition located within the vehicle. He explained that Defendant Williams is a Captain in the Texas State Guard, in charge of training, and that the truck was not impounded but simply moved to the Justice Center for safe keeping until it could be retrieved by the suspect.
Releasing Witness Zepeda from the stand with instructions that he might be re-called, the Jury was dismissed for lunch. Upon their return, they were presented with the next witness, Lieutenant, Rodney Evans, whose testimony coincided with a video recording of Defendant Williams police interview.
With everyone paying close attention, the approximate hour long tape was played and Defendant Williams can be heard explaining that he had been having trouble obtaining computer equipment since being elected to office.
Defendant Williams stated that he was simply outfitting his office with upgraded computer monitors, and repeatedly expressed that he did not know there were required procedures for purchasing County computer equipment.
During the interview, Deputies can be heard explaining to Williams that they had already observed video footage of his Sunday afternoon trips into the IT Department, and they repeatedly question him on the location of the third, never recovered, Dell monitor.
Defendant Williams could not remember removing three monitors and only admitted to innocently taking two for his own official use, and he made several attempts to explain how possibly he had returned one monitor because it wasn’t compatible with his office computer.
No longer smiling or smirking, Defendant Williams did not watch the interview tape along with the Jury but instead kept his eyes focused on the legal pad in front of him.
Additional testimony, much of which was both shocking and questionable, was admitted during the testimonies of Captain Zepeda, Lieutenant Evans and the next witness that was called Kaufman County Judge, Bruce Wood.
This testimony and some of the facts surrounding it are still playing out and will therefore be published within the next article in the continuing coverage of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams.
Trial watchers are reminded that Defendant, Eric Williams, is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The trial of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams is expected to take most of the week, and Forney Post readers are invited to watch for daily updates of trial proceedings.
Progressing Slowly on Day Two of Williams Trial
Post Managing Editor
On the second day of trial, with witness testimony moving at a snails pace, the Jurors in the Eric L. Williams criminal trial drove through a torrential down pour to arrive in court on time, only to spend the first thirty-minutes of their day waiting as Assistant District Attorney, Mark Hasse, once again had considerable problems with the computer needed to display a large array of video evidence.
After finally getting the video equipment working, Prosecutor Hasse questioned Lori Friemel of the Kaufman County IT Department, who had actually begun her testimony Monday afternoon shortly before the end of the day.
Over the course of the next five hours, and in connection with Lori Friemel's testimony, at least thirty video segments and matching still photographs were admitted as evidence that currently suspended, Justice of the Peace, Eric Williams, went into the Kaufman County Sub-courthouse on at least four separate occasions, and removed several computer monitors along with several printer cartridges.
Numerous videos clearly show Defendant Williams “snooping” through the closed building, and walking through an unsecured passageway within the remodeled building. He is repeatedly seen walking in and out of the IT Department and on several occasions is seen leaving with printer cartridges and Dell monitors.
Lori Friemel testified that as part of her IT position she orders all the computer equipment for the entire County. Computers, monitors, cell phones and anything else an employee of the County might need to perform their job.
Friemel testified that she had ordered nine Dell monitors, some of which were specifically ordered to be used within the Sheriff’s 911 Dispatch Center, and that upon their delivery the monitor boxes were stacked next to her desk, in her office, within the IT Department.
Friemel explained that on Friday, May 13, 2011, she was working in her office until almost five o’clock, and that she remembers that all nine monitors were there when she left for the day because she used the top of the stacked boxes as additional workspace, and had opened and sat her laptop upon them.
Friemel then testified that when she arrived at work on Monday morning and approached her desk she noticed that the stack of Dell monitors was no longer at desk level, but was instead now at knee level.
Friemel then contacted Kaufman County IT Director, George York, along with two other employees of the IT Department, and none of these individuals had removed or installed the monitors.
Knowing the monitors where present on Friday, Friemel next accessed the Sub-courthouse camera surveillance system and discovered that Defendant Williams had been within the IT Department the previous Sunday, and that he had removed three Dell monitors. She also learned he had entered the IT Department on two previous Sundays.
Consulting with Director York about her discovery, Friemel was instructed to make a copy of the video tapes and to turn them over to the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department.
With both sides questioning and cross-examining Friemel extensively and repeatedly over the same issues, and with Defendant Williams repeatedly smirking and smiling as testimony and evidence is presented, the trial of the State of Texas vs. Eric L. Williams looks as if it will take several more days.
Witness Lori Friemel was released from the stand, although Defense Attorney Sergi reserved the right to re-call her for additional testimony, and at approximately 4:00 p.m. Witness Friemel was replaced on the stand, by County IT Director, George York.
Trial watchers should remember that Defendant, Eric Williams, is
innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Readers of the Forney Post are invited to watch for daily
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Trial Begins in Justice of the Peace Burglary Case
Post Managing Editor
Bright and early on Monday morning, approximately one-hundred citizens of Kaufman County were summonsed to appear in Kaufman County District Court 422 for Jury selection in the Eric L. Williams criminal trial.
On June 23 2011, a Kaufman County Grand Jury delivered an indictment against Williams, the currently elected Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, and for the past eight months the case has been slowly meandering its way toward a Jury Trial.
Accused of a crime that transpired on May 15, 2011, evidence was presented to a Grand Jury and after the indictment was filed on July 7, 2011 a Warrant was issued for Justice of the Peace, Eric Williams.
On July 8, 2011, Williams was arrested by Kaufman County Sheriff’s Deputies and charged with Burglary of a Building and Theft of more than $500, but less than $1,500.00, by a Public Servant.
Williams is accused of entering the Kaufman County Sub-courthouse, located at 3001 South Washington Street in Kaufman, on three separate Sunday afternoons when the building was closed for business. And of stealing three, brand new, Dell monitors from the Kaufman County IT Department.
The majority of the morning was spent selecting the Jury by first eliminating Jurors with age, childcare or active military exemptions, and then by narrowing the Jury pool to a panel of twelve. The selected Jury is comprised of six women and six men along with one female, Alternate Juror.
Being held in the court of Kaufman County District Judge, B. Michael Chitty, Defendant Williams is being represented by a three member Attorney team led by Attorney, David K. Sergi of San Marcos, Texas.
At the start of Jury selection, Kaufman County District Attorney, Mike McLelland, explained the charges to the potential Jurors, however after the Jurors were chosen and returned to court from an extended lunch break, Assistant District Attorney, Mark E. Hasse, took over and delivered the Prosecutions Opening Statement.
Prosecutor Hasse said, “To be clear, both of these charges stem from the same incident. You will hear testimony that Eric Williams entered the IT Department on three different Sundays, not consecutive Sundays, but three within a month. And removed three Dell monitors.”
Prosecutor Hasse stated, “You will hear testimony and see evidence, photographs and video that show that Eric Williams basically went shopping in the IT Department.”
The Defense team requested to withhold their Opening Statement until after the Prosecution rest, and after a short break Prosecutor Hasse moved on to call his first witness.
Now slightly after four o’clock, Prosecutor Hasse first admitted into evidence a large drawing of the Kaufman County Sub-courthouse, as well as, a disc with video footage from Sub-courthouse surveillance cameras.
With the Prosecutor struggling with technical issues from a laptop that was insufficient to display the video evidence, and thunderstorms expected to reach the area within a few hours, Judge Chitty recessed for the day.
An unusual case at best, Defendant Williams has had a long and distinguished career as an Attorney in Kaufman County, and was elected to the bench after defeating lPrecinct 1, Justice of the Peace, Johnny Perry.
Upon indictment, the Texas Commission of Judicial Conduct suspended Eric L. Williams, without pay, pending the outcome of the criminal charges. Subsequently, Kaufman County Judge, Bruce Wood, temporarily appointed former, Justice of the Peace, Johnny Perry, to preside over the Precinct 1 Court.