Darrent Williams murder trial, day thirteen: Willie Clark found guilty

Westword is covering the trial of Willie Clark, accused of murdering Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams early on New Year's Day 2007. The most recent updates for the day will be at the top; to check out the account chronologically at day's end, read from the bottom up. Click here for accounts and links related to the first week of testimony, here for week two, here for day ten, here for day eleven, and here for day twelve.

1:52 p.m.: After the verdicts were read, the jury was excused. The sheriffs then cleared the courtroom, row by row. Members of both families were ushered off by attorneys. Clark's family declined to speak to the media. Williams's mother, Rosalind Williams, made a statement at a press conference later.

"Today, it's been three years, three months and eleven days," she said.

But she said the verdict was a victory for no one. "My family didn't win, the Clark family didn't win.

"This doesn't bring him back."

She called the murder of her son "senseless" and said that something must be done to stop gang violence. She also admitted that despite all the testimony at trial, she may never know what happened that night, which, for her son, began with a football game and a trip to a nightclub and ended tragically. She said the testimony that her son tried to make peace during an altercation between the Broncos' entourage and Clark and his friends inside the club that night made her "a proud mom."

State prosecutors praised Williams for her "grace and quiet resolve" throughout the three years it took for them to bring the case to trial. They said it was a long road that involved cutting deals with other criminals and granting immunity to some in order to testify. "We did what we felt was necessary to get the truth in front of this jury," said Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. "This was obviously not a case we solved in 48 hours." Morrissey credited the work of the Metro Gang Task Force, which arrested the people involved in this case as part of a larger take-down of alleged drug dealers.

Unfortunately, prosecutor Tim Twining said, this case was not much different from the many other gang cases that go to trial in this city -- other than the fact that nearly all of Denver was watching.

Twining also said he'll seek to prosecute further two men who refused to testify in this case. Mario Anderson and Kataina "Markie" Jackson-Keeling -- who have been described as cousins of Clark -- are being held in jail on contempt of court charges. Prosecutors say both men were in the white Tahoe with Clark when he shot into Williams's limousine. The men have said they know nothing about the crime.

The twelve jurors who made the final decision declined to talk to the media today. But once the verdict was read, the court released three written questions the jury asked the judge during deliberations. The questions hint at what the jury was thinking -- especially a question asked yesterday about whether Clark could be found guilty of first-degree murder "as a result of being complicit." The judge said yes.

If, the judge wrote, "you find that another person committed all or part of either the crime of murder in the first degree (extreme indifference) or murder in the first degree (after deliberation)... then the defendant may be found guilty of either or both murder in the first degree."

12:24 p.m.: Around 11:30 a.m., the jurors announced that they have a verdict. The courtroom filled up quickly. The rows reserved for Williams's family and friends were full, as were the rows reserved for Clark's. The media rows were full, too. The attorneys flitted in and out of the courtroom, whispering to each other.

At around 11:45 a.m., it appeared that the jury was delivered lunch.

For the next fifteen minutes, the courtroom was silent. Most everyone's eyes faced forward.

At noon, Clark entered the courtroom. He was wearing khaki pants and a plaid button-down shirt.

"We have a verdict, obviously," Judge Christina Habas said at 12:05 p.m.

"Mr. Clark, I want to thank you for your conduct throughout this trial. You have basically given me not a moment's concern and I think you have served yourself well in that," Habas said. She asked him to continue. "I know there's a verdict you want to hear and verdict you don't want to hear."

The jury of four men and eight women entered the courtroom at 12:07 p.m. The jury foreman, an older black man, handed the verdicts to the judge's clerk, who handed them to the judge. The jurors looked somber. As the judge read the verdicts silently to herself, one of the jurors wiped her eyes.

The judge then read the verdicts: guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, guilty of several charges of attempted first-degree murder, guilty of several charges of second-degree assault and guilty of illegal discharge of a firearm. When the judge read the first guilty verdict, a few female members of Clark's family seated in the first row started crying. Williams's family, in the second row, cried as well.

After the verdicts were read, Clark appeared as he has throughout the trial: calm. He nodded toward his family and whispered to his lawyers. Several of the jurors looked grim. One appeared to be crying.

The judge said Clark will be sentenced on April 30 at 1:30 p.m.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar