Suspect indicted in murder of ex-Bronco Williams
Willie D. Clark faces 39 counts, including murder, attempted murder, assault, crimes of violence and a weapons violation, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said.
Clark is in federal custody in a separate case. He was long considered a "person of interest" in Williams' slaying but is the first suspect to be indicted.
Williams' mother, Rosalind Williams of Fort Worth, Texas, told The Associated Press that the indictment brought her peace but also dredged up painful memories.
"Oh, I got bittersweet news today," she said of her phone call from Detective Michael Martinez informing her of Clark's indictment. "There's still a long ways to go, a long trial ahead. And we have to make sure this doesn't happen to another family, too."
Williams a former Oklahoma State standout, was shot and killed while riding in a rented limousine early on Jan. 1, 2007, after leaving the Safari Club, a Denver nightclub. He was 24.
The indictment said Williams and Clark were at the club with separate groups of friends and there was an altercation between the two groups. Quoting witnesses, it said Clark got into an SUV, followed the rented limo carrying Williams and opened fire.
At least 15 shots were fired into the limo. Williams was shot in the neck, and two other passengers, Nicole Reindl and Brandon Flowers, were wounded, the indictment said.
Clark does not yet have an attorney for the Williams indictment, said Denver district attorney's spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough. A call after hours to his attorney on a separate federal case, Alaurice Tafoya-Modi, was not immediately returned.
According to the indictment, taunts were exchanged between the groups inside the nightclub, and both groups went outside when the club closed. Witnesses testified that a "large" man from Williams' group then grabbed Clark "about the head."
Clark asked friends for "a heater," or gun, according to the indictment. Williams and his companions took off in the limo and Clark, driving the SUV, caught up and fired, a witness said. Two weapons -- a .45-caliber handgun and a .40-caliber gun -- were used, according to the indictment.
"Obviously there's more than one shooter," Morrissey said.
Clark was arrested on a parole violation four days after Williams was killed. He was charged with drug violations last year in an indictment that also named Brian Hicks, the registered owner of the SUV police say was used in the shooting.
Investigators have said Clark was part of Hicks' alleged drug operation. Hicks was in jail at the time of Williams' shooting.
Morrissey emphasized at a news conference that the police investigation into the slaying was continuing. He described the lead-up to Williams' slaying as "something that wasn't even a good fist fight, but because weapons were involved it turned into a shooting. ... It's senseless."
Police expressed frustration at the "no snitch" culture they encountered during the investigation. A break in the case occurred Aug. 21 when Detective Martinez authenticated a letter written by Clark allegedly admitting to the slaying. The letter was obtained by the Rocky Mountain News.
The indictment came down after the Broncos' practice, and long-snapper Mike Leach said as he left the team's headquarters that it brought a sense of relief to the team.
"We've been waiting for this for a long time. Hopefully they have all their ducks in a row and everything will work out the way we hope it will," he said. "I hope in some way it brings comfort to D-Will's mom and his family. You can't do anything to bring him back but if it after all these years gives a little comfort to them, hopefully it will."
Nick Ferguson, a safety who played for the Broncos with Williams, said he hoped authorities have the right person.
"I trust the people investigating the case did their homework and they won't drag people into court on charges that won't stick," said Ferguson, now with the Houston Texans. "I've seen that happen too many times.
"I'm like a lot of people who knew Darrent. I just want the people responsible to pay their debt to society for taking such a young, vibrant man from his kids and his family. Not a moment goes by that I don't think about D-Will and his family after what happened that night."
Williams' death hung over the Broncos throughout the 2007 season, as did the death of backup running back Damien Nash, who collapsed after a charity basketball game in St. Louis in March 2007.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press