By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
For Darrent Williams, New Year's Eve 2006 started with a football game. After a disappointing loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Denver Broncos cornerback and five of his friends from his home town of Fort Worth, Texas, headed to a nightclub called Safari, near Tenth Avenue and Broadway. They partied in the third-floor VIP section and were there at midnight when, Williams's friends say, a cousin of Bronco Brandon Marshall's shook up a bottle of Moët champagne and showered everyone in the section.
Two men they'd never met before didn't appreciate the gesture. Williams tried to defuse the situation by introducing himself and telling them it was cool. Soon after, club security guards showed up and escorted the two men from the third floor. Prosecutors say one of them was Willie Clark, a then-23-year-old gang member who was working his way up the ranks of a dangerous drug conspiracy that aimed to dominate the crack market on the city's east side. The other was his associate, Daniel "PT" Harris.
The champagne incident may have sparked another altercation between the two groups that occurred outside the club. Words, gestures and punches were exchanged, witnesses say. Marshall admitted that he got upset and may have escalated the situation.
Eventually, Williams herded his friends into his rented white Hummer limousine and drove away, with fellow player Javon Walker and several women in tow. A few minutes later, as the limo made its way north on Speer Boulevard, it was hit with a spray of bullets. Two passengers were shot, and 24-year-old Williams was killed.
After a two-week trial that ended March 9, a jury of eight women and four men convicted Clark, now 26, of pulling the trigger. He could face life in prison when he's sentenced on April 30.
In closing arguments, state prosecutors repeatedly referred to the bricks of evidence that built Clark's "box of guilt." Clark's defense attorneys tried to blow that brick house down by punching holes in the prosecution's theories and casting doubt on their witnesses. But in the end, it wasn't enough. — Asmar
Here's a look at five important pieces of evidence that may have helped seal Clark's fate.
THE TESTIMONY OF DANIEL "PT"
Who he is: Since moving to Colorado in 2000, Harris worked as a sometimes-car salesman, sometimes-cocaine dealer who was successful enough to buy himself a $600,000 house before he got caught. He's a self-described "associate" of Clark's and a good friend and drug-dealing business partner of Brian Hicks, who authorities say is an east-side drug kingpin and pseudo-boss to Clark. Harris is also friends with Vernone Edwards and Felix Abram, who were involved in Hicks's drug-dealing business. Harris says he's not in a gang, but others say he belongs to the Grape Street Crips.
What he said: Harris was the prosecution's star witness. He was the only person to testify that he saw Clark shoot into Williams's limo that night.
On New Year's Eve 2006, Harris went to dinner at the Dolce Vita restaurant, between Ninth and Tenth avenues on Lincoln Street, with several friends, including Abram — but not Clark. He drove there alone and parked his BMW behind a deli. After dinner, around 10:30 or 11 p.m., Harris and his group headed to the Safari, a block away on Broadway. He doesn't remember getting into any arguments in line, nor does he remember seeing any professional athletes or celebrities. He also doesn't remember seeing anyone spray champagne inside the club or getting into any altercations.
At let-out, Harris doesn't remember being angry about anything. But after watching a surveillance tape of the crowd outside the club, Harris admitted that it looks like he's in a fight with somebody — though he's not sure who.
"Was that enough to cause you to want to shoot someone?" prosecutor Tim Twining asked him. "No, that didn't incite me to kill," Harris said.
Residue from Mace sprayed by security guards in an attempt to disperse the crowd outside the club hit him, making his eyes, nose and mouth burn. At that point, he heard someone yell his nickname: "PT! PT! PT!" When he looked up, he saw Clark and Clark's teenage cousins, Kataina "Markie" Jackson-Keeling and Mario Anderson, in a 1996 or 1997 white Chevy Tahoe. Harris recognized the Tahoe as Hicks's. He jumped into the back seat behind the passenger because he thought he'd be safe inside.
Clark was behind the wheel. He drove southbound on Broadway and eventually ended up on Speer, where he pulled into the lane next to a white Hummer limousine that had previously been parked in front of the club. Then Clark started shooting. "Willie is leaning over the center console, shooting out the (passenger-side) window at the white limousine," Harris said. Harris doesn't remember how many times Clark pulled the trigger — but it was a lot. "It seemed like it was going on forever," he said. "It was just random, like all over. It wasn't like he was shooting at a specific part."
After the shooting, Clark sped off. Harris begged him to slow down. "I told him, 'Don't speed, don't speed, don't speed! Let me out!'" Harris said.