KAUFMAN COUNTY (KYTX) - A Kaufman County Court at Law Judge is about to take over the embattled District Attorney's Office. Judge Erleigh Norville Wiley's appointment comes less than two weeks after District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were murdered inside their home.
Surrounded by staff from the district attorney's office and from the rest of the courthouse Thursday, Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood made a rare positive statement in what has become an infamous murder mystery.
"Judge Norville Wiley is here with me," he said as he introduced the county's new district attorney to the public.
The Kaufman County Court at Law Judge found out several days ago that Governor Rick Perry was appointing her to take over for slain District Attorney Mike McLelland.
"During this most difficult period, I believe, in our county history, our community has been shocked and devastated by the horrific murders," Wiley said, offering the Hasse and McLelland families her condolences. "Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this most sorrowful, sorrowful--it's still hard--time."
But questions quickly turned to her own safety.
"We're all in danger here in Kaufman County because until we figure out who's done these horrible things to Mike and Cynthia and Mark, I mean we're still all in danger," Wiley said. So I don't know if I'm stepping into any more danger than I already was in."
It's a danger that seems clear in hindsight--and one that her predecessor may never have imagined when he sought justice after Hasse's murder.
"We're very confident that we're going to find you," Mike McLelland said in January of 2012. "We're going to bring you out of whatever hole you're in and the people of Kaufman County are going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."
Now, the torch is passed to a woman who grew up in Kaufman County and wants to stay there.
"I just know, the way I was raised, if there's something to be done then we just need to do it," Wiley said.
Wiley's appointment has to be confirmed by the Texas Senate. That confirmation is expected on Wednesday, April 17.
Kaufman County commissioners are already searching for her replacement on the bench.