WASHINGTON, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - A US federal prosecutor has withdrawn from a racketeering case against a white supremacy group in Texas, citing safety concerns after two county attorneys were shot to death in the span of two months, a lawyer involved in the case said Wednesday.
“I received a very short email from attorney Jay Hileman, saying he was withdrawing from the case against alleged members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas for security concerns,” Houston lawyer Katherine Scardino, who is representing a former leader of the group of white supremacists, said Wednesday.
Hileman, an assistant US attorney for the Southern District of Texas, sent an email on Monday to lawyers representing the 34 defendants in the federal case against the Aryan Brotherhood, saying he was withdrawing.
The email came days after the bodies of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found inside their home near Dallas over the weekend.
The double killing came less than three months after McLelland’s deputy, Mark Hasse, was gunned down as he walked to work at the Kaufman County Courthouse in late January.
Authorities are investigating whether white supremacists might have been behind the three murders.
The Aryan Brotherhood in Texas has been accused of murder, kidnappings, racketeering, arson, robbery and drug trafficking.
Several other defense lawyers working on the Aryan Brotherhood case were quoted in media reports as saying they had also received the email from Hileman, advising that he was pulling out of the case.
Scardino is the defense lawyer for a leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, who turned state’s evidence and testified against other members of the group.
The Houston laywer said she has feared for her safety and that of her client, but noted that there is no hard evidence linking the white supremacy group to the recent spate of killings in Texas.
“I was a little concerned, to tell you the truth, even though we don’t know if the Aryan Brotherhood was involved,” Scardino said.
“My client cooperated with the government, and, as a result of things he told the government, there have been 34 arrests of suspects believed to be Aryan Brotherhood members who are allegedly responsible for committing a series of violent crimes. So I think my client might be more of a target than I might be,” Scardino said.
Scardino’s client, Aryan Brotherhood “General” Terry Sillers, is in protective custody.