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Texas Prosecutors Were Killed In Two Very Different Ways

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AP Photo

Authorities are still trying to determine whether the recent killings of two prosecutors in Kaufman County, Texas are connected. Officials have explored similar leads -- including the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison gang and a former county justice of the peace -- in both cases. But no suspects have yet been named in either case, and no definite link has been established between the two killings.

Media reports have focused on the similarities between the cases. What's been less emphasized are the different details and circumstances of each crime.

The Hasse Killing

Late Wednesday, The Dallas Morning News published a story detailing the recollections of one woman who witnessed the shooting of Mark Hasse, an assistant district attorney in Kaufman County, who was shot outside the Kaufman County courthouse on Jan. 31. The woman, who was not identified, told the Morning News she saw a man dressed in black, wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

"You could not see one ounce of skin on that man," she said.

The woman thought the shooter was "padded in some way because of the way he moved" -- another witness apparently told investigators that the gunman was wearing "a black bulletproof vest and black tactical boots" -- and when she spoke to investigators, she could not tell them what he looked like. She did see the shooter confront Hasse on a sidewalk.

"The guy in the hoodie ... kind of shoved into Mark," she said. "Mark kind of shoved himself back a little bit. And the guy did it again -- and Mark kind of shoved him -- and the guy shot him."

The woman never saw a gun, but she counted at least three shots. (No shell casings were found on the scene, perhaps indicating that the shooter used a revolver, according to the Morning News.)

"The guy ran to the car, got into the car and started to drive off, so I pulled in front of him to see if I could get the front license plate," the woman told the newspaper. "There was no license plate."

Other reports have suggested that more than one person was involved in Hasse's death, but the woman believed the shooter was the only occupant of the car she saw drive away. She tried to follow the shooter in her car for about two blocks, but then turned back out of fear. She then performed CPR on Hasse, who was unresponsive and breathing with difficulty. His eyes, she said, were still open.

The McLelland Shootings

The last contact anyone had with Kaufman District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia McLelland, was on March 29. Mike McLelland spoke with family members by phone that evening. The next day, at around 6:45 p.m., after several failed attempts to get in touch with them, friends of the McLellands found their bodies inside their Forney home.

There were apparently no witnesses to the McLellands' demise. According to the Morning News, Blarney Stone Way is a quiet street, and the killings happened early in the morning.

Cynthia McLelland's body was found near the front door. Mike McLelland's body was found in the rear of the house. He was in his pajamas. Numerous .223-caliber shell casings were found in the house, raising the possibility that the shooter or shooters used a semi-automatic rifle. One report said at least 20 shots were fired. Kaufman County Sheriff's Office personnel who responded to the scene observed multiple gunshot wounds on each victim.

Without witnesses, there are questions. Did Cynthia McLelland open the front door? Or was she letting out the dog? Was Mike McLelland trying to get a pistol from the couple's bedroom? Those are the basics. Then there are the larger questions, which apply equally to the Hasse case. Who did it? And why?