Did the Southern Poverty Law Center Misdirect Media, Law Enforcement in the Texas DA Murders?
News broke Friday afternoon that an arrest has been made in the murders of three people. Those murders, of Kaufman County DA Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia, and prosecutor Mark Hasse, triggered national coverage. As R.S. McCain notes, MSNBC's Chris Matthews ran an 8-minute segment on the killings on April 3, detailing the widespread belief that the Aryan Brotherhood white supremacist/thug group was behind the killings.
But if the reports out of Kaufman County are correct, the Aryan Brotherhood isn't behind the crimes. Former Kaufman Justice of the Peace Eric Williams is. CBS 11 reports that Williams was arrested Friday and charged with making "terroristic threats," which includes threatening county employees and issuing demands that had to be met at a "certain time on a certain date." A storage shed was searched, weapons were found, and they're being tested for ballistics. Capital murder charges may come in the next day or two.
According to the report, Williams "had a history with both McLelland and Hasse. The two had prosecuted and secured a conviction against him in 2012 for burglary and theft by a public servant. Surveillance cameras caught Williams taking computer equipment from a county building. As part of his appeal, Williams claimed that McLelland and Hasse did not like him." As the case unfolds it is starting to look like a local vendetta, not part of a national anything by a political-crime syndicate like the Aryan Brotherhood.
Where did MSNBC and other national media quickly get the idea that the Aryan Brotherhood was involved? Possibly from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which on January 31 -- a day after Hasse's murder -- posted a lengthy piece by Mark Potok bringing up the AB link. Potok also showed up on MSNBC on April 1, the day after the McLellands' murders, to once again point the finger at the Aryan Brotherhood.
Other press followed up, all, as Stacy McCain notes, flowing from that January 31 article posted by the SPLC. But if Williams is the killer then it looks like the SPLC got the whole story wrong. Meanwhile, on the ground in Kaufman County, suspicion was already falling on Williams much earlier, according to Stacy McCain.
The pieces might have fallen into place earlier — Mark Haase’s murder might have been solved, and Williams arrested before McLelland was killed – if law enforcement hadn’t wasted time chasing the “white supremacist” wild goose, when the D.A. himself tried to tell them who murdered Mark Haase:
County Judge Bruce Wood said Sunday that McLelland repeatedly told him that McLelland believed Williams was behind Hasse’s slaying. The first time was in the emergency room in the hours after Hasse was shot down by a mysterious gunman dressed in black.
“He was distraught,” Wood said. “He very pointedly said to me, ‘I know who did this.’ I said, ‘Well, who, Mike?’ He said, ‘Well, Eric Williams.’”
McLelland, who worked for years as a diagnostic psychologist, described Williams as “a narcissistic psychopath” during that conversation and others. Wood said McLelland never elaborated on why he thought Williams was involved.
On March 27, Wood said he met with McLelland in the county judge’s office. “I said, ‘Are you still convinced that it’s Eric Williams?’” Wood recalled. “He said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Mike McLelland was shot dead four days later, which gave Mark Potok a chance to go on MSNBC, but I guarantee you that Martin Bashir and Chris Matthews won’t say another word about this crime now that we know the truth. Because they don’t give a damn about truth.
The SPLC and its "Hate Watch" and "Hate Map" fuel media and leftwing speculation while helping the Center generate donations, and the latter even inspired at attempt at a mass killing at the headquarters of the Family Research Council last year. This time, the SPLC may have misdirected law enforcement long enough for a man to commit murder. One federal prosecutor quit a case on April 3, citing the danger of dealing with the Aryan Brotherhood, after the three murders.
It's time for the media to take the SPLC off the speed dial, unless they want to reach out for an irresponsible hate group's perspective.