Inmate arrested for murder-for-hire plot of district judge - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

MCLENNAN COUNTY

Inmate arrested for murder-for-hire plot of district judge

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William Ray Phillips William Ray Phillips
MCLENNAN COUNTY -

An inmate faces an attempted capital murder charge after authorities say he hired a hitman to kill a district judge.

William Ray Phillips was served an attempted capital murder warrant Wednesday. His bond was set at $250,000.

"Phillips was arrested for attempted capital murder in the connection for a murder for hire plot to kill a  McLennan County district judge," McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.

According to the complaint, an inmate at Jack Harwell Detention Center told a detective he needed to speak with him because he overheard another inmate say he was hiring a hitman to murder someone.

The inmate told the detective that William Phillips had asked him if he knew of someone who could assassinate a district judge involved in his case. The Sheriff's Office says Phillips originally targeted two other officials as well as the judge, but over the course of the investigation Phillips' narrowed his focus to one judge.

Phillips was looking to get in contact with a hitman who would murder the judge for him. An undercover officer was hired to pose as a hitman.

"Ultimately the investigation reveled that Phillips was willing to pay for the murder of one victim. A McLennan County district judge," McNamara said.

The complaint says Phillips met with the undercover officer on February 11, and hired him to kill a district judge for $30,000. Phillips was given several chances to stop the hit, but still hired the hitman.

The sheriff's office would not say who specifically Phillips planned to kill, but did say they took all the necessary steps to keep the judge and his immediate family safe.

"It should be noted, that an array of precautions were implemented to protect the victims over the course of this investigation," McNamara said.

Several federal agencies, including the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Marshal's, joined in on this 10 month investigation. They say when it comes to safety of elected officials, that is their priority.

"A threat against a member of the criminal justice system such as a judge or an attorney is nothing short of an attempt to circumvent our legal system. That type of action will not be tolerated," FBI supervisor special agent Phil Gadd said.

Phillips was serving a 10 year sentence for failing to register as a sex offender and a sexual offense in 2012.

In February 2003, Phillips was convicted in the United States District Court for possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

On January 17, 2012, He was released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after serving a five year term for indecency with a child. Two months later he failed to register as a sex offender.

The warrant comes after a lengthy investigation by the McLennan County Sheriff's Office.

Click here for the complaint for the murder-for-hire.

Click here for the complaint for his previous arrest.

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