Suspect Willie Clark is advised of the charges against in the death of Darrent Williams at Denver's City and County Building on Oct. 17, 2008.
From the Denver Post:
A Denver jury has convicted Willie D. Clark of murdering Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams.
Clark, 26, was accused of killing Williams and wounding two others early New Year's Day 2007 following an altercation outside the Shelter nightclub.
Prosecutors said Williams and his entourage were traveling in a white stretch Hummer limousine when they were ambushed by at least two gunmen in a passing white Chevrolet Tahoe.
Clark was convicted on all 21 charges, including two counts of first-degree murder - one for the murder of Williams after deliberation and one for murder with "extreme indifference." Also included were 16 counts of attempted murder, one each for the surviving passengers in the Hummer limousine.
Rosalinda Williams, mother of Darrent Williams, attends a news conference after the guilty verdict against Willie Clark. (THE DENVER POST | Lyn Alweis)
Several of the jurors cried as judge Christina Habas read the guilty verdict.
Clark's defense attorneys asked Habas to poll the jury, and each of the 12 members confirmed their vote of guilty.
As the verdict was read, Darrent Williams' mother, Rosalind Williams, who attended each day of the trial, sat quietly.
She said later that as she heard the first verdict of "guilty," she thought, "This is a start."
"It has been three years, three months and 11 days, but today ultimately shows that no one wins. My family didn't win. The Clark family didn't win," Rosalind Williams said. "I lost my son, my only son, and his children lost their father. This doesn't bring him back. But I just want something has to happen in society for us to stop gang violence. It just has to stop."
Rosalind Williams said it made her feel like, "a proud mom" to hear testimony from witnesses that her son was a peacemaker, not an aggressor, in conflicts at the nightclub in the hours and minutes before his death. Still, she said she is left with questions about why her son was murdered.
"I have a few more answers, but a lot of questions," she said. "What would cause someone to do a senseless crime, to do a drive-by shooting. I think that's just such a cowardly act."
A large group of Clark's friends and family members gathered in the hallway on the fourth floor after leaving the court room, and all declined to speak to reporters. Defense attorney Darren Cantor said Clark's family was too upset to give any comments.
Cantor also declined to speak about the verdict. Cantor and Abraham Hutt also represent Clark in Clark's other pending murder case. Clark and two others, including Brian Hicks, are accused of killing witness Kalonniann Clark in a different case.
Clark will be sentenced in this case on April 30.
Broncos President and CEO Pat Bowlen released a statement after the verdict thanking police and prosecutors for their work.
"Nothing can ever bring Darrent Williams back or ease the suffering for Rosalind and her grandchildren.
But after three long years, it is very gratifying to see closure brought to this case. This process has been extremely difficult for the Williams family, his friends and teammates, this community, and the entire Denver Broncos organization," Bowlen said in the statement.
"Darrent's legacy will live on for all of us in the Broncos organization, and the outstanding work done each day at the Darrent Williams Memorial Teen Center is a tribute to his impact on this community. Our hearts continue to go out to the entire Williams family."
Jurors heard 11 days of testimony from more than 40 witnesses, many of whom were fellow gang associates of Clark who had reached plea agreements in other cases in exchange for their testimony. They deliberated for about 12 hours over parts of three days.
The prosecution's key witness, Daniel "Ponytail" Harris, had his prison time reduced from a potential life sentence to five years. Harris was the only witness to identify Clark as the man who shot at the Hummer limousine. Prosecutors said Clark was driving the white Tahoe, and shot a .40 caliber gun out the passenger window. Williams was struck in the neck by one .40 caliber bullet.
No fingerprints or gun residue was found inside the Tahoe, which was discovered several days later, the inside burned-out and the outside spray painted black.
Two star players for the Denver Broncos, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, also testified for the prosecution.
Defense attorneys said Clark was a scapegoat for a group of drug dealers who wanted him to take the blame for the shooting in order to take the heat off their drug business
Clark's attorney's said Clark was not in the white Tahoe, and floated the theory that a green SUV - driven by and belonging to different men - could have been used in the shooting.
Before the verdict was read, Judge Christina Habas thanked Clark for his "conduct throughout this trial," and asked everyone in the courtroom to keep their emotions in check as the verdicts were read.
There was no audible reaction from anyone in the courtroom as the clerk read the verdicts.