Closing arguments finished in trial
DENVER -- A man accused of firing the shots that killed Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams lived in a gang culture where an insult following a confrontation in a nightclub proved to be enough to send him into a murderous rage, prosecutors said Tuesday.
"He wouldn't take a fist fight he can't win, but he'd take a gun fight he can't lose," Chief Deputy District Attorney Bruce Levin said of Willie Clark during closing statements in the 26-year-old's trial.
Clark faces 21 charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault in the New Year's Day 2007 shooting. Two others were injured in the shooting that killed Williams, a rising star in the NFL in late 2006. Jurors were to begin deliberations Wednesday morning.
Clark's attorney, Abraham Hutt, said the evidence presented during the trial pointed to Clark not being in a white SUV from which more than a dozen gunshots were fired into the rented Hummer limousine carrying Williams and other football players.
"This is what this is about: Willie Clark is a scapegoat," Hutt told jurors, pointing to deals cut by prosecutors that reduced prison sentences for five witnesses by a total of 188 years in exchange for testimony.
Hutt said the prosecution's star witness, Daniel "Ponytail" Harris, had faced a life sentence for a drug charge but will be released within two years. Harris testified that he saw Clark fire the shots.
Prosecutors say Williams and the others in the limousine had just left a nightclub where they got into an altercation with a group that included Clark, a suspected gang member.
The altercation started when a member of Williams' group sprayed champagne on New Year's partiers, prosecutors said.
But Chief Deputy District Attorney Timothy Twining said testimony during the trial showed Clark was out for a fight, walking around a house earlier that night in a bulletproof vest, waving a gun, then confronting Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall outside a nightclub as the Broncos' entourage was waved through the VIP entrance.
"We street. ... We got money, too," Twining quoted Clark as telling Marshall outside the club. "The thing about the champagne? It's a so what."
During a confrontation on the sidewalk outside the club after closing time, Marshall went up Clark with his hands up and may have hit Clark on the head, sending Clark into a murderous rage, Twining said.
"It was this man, who indiscriminately, with universal maliciousness ... took it upon himself to unload his .40-caliber handgun into that limousine full of innocent people," Twining said of Clark.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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