Man Goes On Trial For 1998 Murder; Case File Was Misplaced


A man goes on trial Monday for a 1998 murder in Central Texas that almost went forgotten after the case file was misplaced.

James Earl Williams (Jail photo)

WACO (July 22, 2013)—Justice eluded Darren Eugene Lang’s family for 15 years after he was shot to death on a Waco street but the discovery of an old case file at the DA’s office last year changed all that.

Jury selection was set in 54th District Court Monday morning for James Earl Williams, 46, who was identified years ago as a suspect in Lang’s murder but somehow never got indicted.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett said back in August 2012 the Williams file was found stored in an old filing cabinet last spring and was re-opened for investigation.

Williams was arrested while serving time for a drug conviction at a federal prison in Big Spring, brought back to Waco and indicted.

He has been held at the McLennan County Jail since then in lieu of a $1 million bond on the murder charge.

Another man, Terrance Lamar Johnson, 34, was arrested last August as a material witness to the murder and on a charge of aggravated robbery in an unrelated incident and was being held Monday in the McLennan County Jail held in lieu of a $10,000 bond.

Both men also were held on federal detainers without bond.

In an indictment returned on March 28, 2012, Williams was named in connection with the June 12, 1998 murder of Lang, 17, in a drive-by shooting.

Lang, after he was shot, drove from the scene to the old Waco Police Department building at North 4th Street and West Waco Drive and died at the building's back door, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

A Waco police detective had identified Williams in 1998 as the suspected gunman after several witnesses gave police his name.

Why the file was stored and what happened to it in the intervening years is unknown, Jarrett said.


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