An assistant U.S. attorney in Houston is bowing out of a case against the Aryan Brotherhood. The white supremacist group is suspected in the murders of a North Texas district attorney, his wife and an assistant district attorney.
In Kaufman County, where the district attorney and his wife were murdered over the weekend, the courthouse remains heavily-guarded.
Employees there have been on heightened alert since a prosecutor was gunned down in late January.
District attorneys across the state are focused on their safety as the Aryan Brotherhood is suspected of carrying out the crimes.
Now Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman of Houston has gone as far as withdrawing his name from a racketeering case involving the white supremacist group. Kaufman County is listed as a supporting agency on the 2012 case.
Defense attorney Richard Ely got the notice Tuesday. He is representing one of the 34 Aryan members who were indicted.
"I've known Mr. Hileman for a long time he's a friend of mine he's a great prosecutor. I greatly respect him. I trust his judgment," said Ely. "It's a shame that he's withdrawing from the case."
This comes one day after the Texas Department of Public Safety released its gang threat assessment. According to the report, the Aryan Brotherhood's heaviest presence is in Dallas and Fort Worth.
Here in Austin, gang officers say there are 80 documented members. 20 more are suspected. There are no known threats from the group in the Austin area. Officers say the Aryan Brotherhood is no more dangerous than any other gang.
"We consider every gang out here has the potential for danger," said Sgt. VanZura.
Ely isn't convinced the Aryan Brotherhood is behind the Kaufman County murders.
"My dealings with the Aryan Brotherhood in the past would lead me to believe that they wouldn't have killed his wife. What would have happened is they dragged the prosecutor out and beat him to death or shot him and left him," Ely said.
Ely says he isn't scared.
"I make sure my clients know I'm armed all the time and they should pick on someone smaller," he said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston issued the following statement, "The case currently pending in the Southern District of Texas has been and will continue to be worked by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas in partnership with the department of justice's criminal division. Beyond that, we cannot comment further."