In February, we shared the story of Michael Clark, accused of killing Boulder official Marty Grisham in 1994, but not charged until earlier this year.
The case was hardly a slam dunk, since it was largely based on circumstantial evidence. But the prosecution has earned a first-degree murder conviction anyhow. Details below.
As we've reported, Grisham, the city's data processing director, interrupted a late dinner at his Arapahoe Avenue apartment with his girlfriend to answer a door knock on the evening of November 1, 1994 -- and according to the Boulder Police Department, whoever he found there shot him four times and fled. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was declared dead.
It didn't take long for attention to focus on Clark, a friend of Grisham's daughter, and no wonder. Earlier the day of his death, Grisham reported that a book of his checks had been stolen, with charges to his account totaling more than $4,000. Clark eventually admitted to the theft, and he had access to the home because Grisham's daughter had given him a key, ostensibly so he could feed Grisham's cat. But he denied involvement in the murder and was not formally charged with the slaying in its immediate aftermath.
That changed in January, more than two years after the case was reopened. An arrest affidavit obtained by the Boulder Daily Camera cited comments Clark allegedly made to a Boulder County jail cellmate after the check-theft arrest and contradictions in stories he told about how he'd obtained a gun prior to Grisham's killing.
Clark was released on a $100,000 bond, but he was soon back behind bars following an arrest on suspicion of drunk driving. The tip came from his probation officer, who said Clark seemed to be soused during a meeting -- something he pretty much admitted in subsequent conversations with authorities, police records say. Clark told cops he'd taken shots of whiskey and gin at three hour intervals beginning at midnight before driving from Dillon to Boulder for the meetup. But while he brought a gin-and-tonic-filled water bottle with him, he insisted he didn't suck on it while on the road.
Despite this slip, Clark received a much smaller bond -- this one valued at $1,000 -- and was subsequently released again to prepare for a trial that got underway this month. As reported by the Daily Camera, the jury eventually heard seven days' worth of testimony, after which it spent two days deliberating -- an indication that the case consisted of an accumulation of details rather than a single overwhelming piece of information.
In addition to the story from the jailhouse informant, reps from the Boulder District Attorney's Office shared evidence that Clark had sold a gun of the same caliber (9mm) that was used in the murder. They argued that he killed Grisham to prevent him from blowing the whistle on his check scheme -- something he feared would prevent him from being accepted into the Marine Corps, especially considering that he'd been arrested once before on motorcycle theft. And witnesses stepped forward to say they'd seen Clark with a weapon before the crime was committed.
When taken as a whole, these factors persuaded a jury to render a guilty verdict. No bond this time around; Clark was immediately taken into custody, wrapping up a case that's lingered for the better part of two decades.
Here's a larger look at Clark's mug shot.
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