Darrent Williams murder trial: Judge to allow live broadcast of Willie Clark's sentencing

Will Willie Clark be sentenced to life in prison for murdering Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams in a drive-by in 2007? If he is, Denver will know immediately.

Television stations, radio stations and websites will be allowed to broadcast Clark's April 30 sentencing live, according to an order written by Judge Christina Habas and released moments ago. Reporters will also be allowed to live-blog and tweet from the courtroom, provided they sit in a designated area.

The rules for Clark's sentencing differ sharply from those that prevailed at his trial, which took place in February and March. (For more on the trial and on how Clark was captured, read Westword's feature "In the Hunt for Darrent Williams' Killer, the Cops Went on the Offensive Early.") No cameras were allowed in the courtroom, and any sort of communication -- including live-blogging, texting and tweeting -- was prohibited. Several spectators, including a security guard, had their cell phones temporarily confiscated for violating that rule.

The strict rules at trial were born of safety concerns, Habas has said. The case was very high-profile and Habas didn't want spectators rushing to the courtroom if they heard, for example, that Bronco Brandon Marshall was on the stand.

There were also other concerns, some of which were related to Clark's affiliation with the Tre Tre Crips gang. At one point, Habas described the case as "saturated with witness intimidation issues." Indeed, a few witnesses were either currently or formerly in witness protection. The rules were an effort to curb any bad things that may have come of allowing instantaneous communication from the courtroom, she said.

There will be witnesses at the sentencing hearing, too. Habas has said she will allow up to twenty people from each side -- family and friends supporting both Clark and Williams -- to testify on how the case has affected them. The hearing will start at 1:30 p.m.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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