Inmate Who Offered “Hit Man” $30,000 To Kill Local Judge Indicted

William Phillips (Jail photo)
By  | 

WACO (May 28, 2014) William Ray Phillips, 63, was indicted for attempted capital murder Wednesday in Waco in an alleged murder-for-hire plot that targeted a local state district judge.

Phillips was an inmate at the Jack Harwell Detention Center at the time of the alleged offer, but has since been transferred to a state prison unit.

Phillips is accused of offering an undercover officer $30,000 to murder Waco State District Judge Matt Johnson, a criminal complaint says.

Johnson twice sentenced Phillips to prison.

Phillips was convicted in January 2007 in Waco’s 54th State District Court on 12 counts of sexual misconduct with children, including aggravated sexual assault of a child, indecency with a child and aggravated rape, records in the McLennan County District Clerk's office show.

The jury in that trial assessed his punishment at life for each of the 12 convictions, but a ruling in 2012 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dealing with statutes of limitations in certain criminal cases resulted in reversal of those convictions and ultimately in Phillips' release from custody on Jan. 17, 2012.

He was arrested April 18, 2012 by agents from the Texas Attorney General's Office after they discovered he had never registered as a sex offender.

On July 11, 2012, court records show Phillips was indicted for failing to register as a sex offender relating to his earlier federal conviction and he was arrested and booked into the McLennan County Jail on August 21, 2012.

On Jan. 9, 2013, a 54th District Court jury took only 13 minutes to find Phillips guilty of failing to register as a sex offender.

Johnson, who decided punishment, sentenced Phillips to 10 years in prison.

The inmate initially talked about wanting to kill three high-ranking officials, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said earlier this year, but finally decided that he wanted to target only the state judge.

The officials were advised and measures were taken to protect them during the course of the investigation.

A warrant charging attempted capital murder was issued in February after a 10-month investigation by the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The probe started after another inmate told an investigator that Phillips asked him if he “Knew someone able to carry out a murder on a high level official involved with his case,” the complaint said.

“The inmate said Phillips told him that he wanted to assassinate someone involved with his case,” the complaint said.

Investigators developed a plan to allow Phillips to make contact with a hit man, who actually was the undercover officer, the complaint said.