Ep 65: Justice Delayed? The Mike Williams Case

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

When a brutal murder rocks small town in Georgia. Everyone is shocked did the new guy in town do it. Yes. The cops say and they quickly land him in prison. But then another murder happens and another in the end four bodies to convictions and one man in jail for a crime. He likely did not commit welcome to murder Ville murder. Ville Georgia a new investigative podcast from the intercept. Subscribe now on Stitcher apple podcasts or wherever you listen. The missing persons poster read Jerry Williams, also known as Mike Williams was last seen leaving his residence in the vicinity of the five thousand block of centennial oak circle in Tallahassee Florida. He allegedly was going duck hunting at lake seminal his boat and vehicle described as a green and tan nineteen ninety four Ford Bronco were later found at the lake as well. The poster which had started circulating in late. December of two thousand went on to say that Mike went missing on December sixteenth two thousand that. He was thirty one years old a white male with Brown hair and blue eyes distinguishing characteristics included, a chicken pox, scar on his left cheek previously worn braces on his teeth and corrective shoes, he was possibly wearing camouflage hunting clothes and may have also been wearing a Saint Christopher muddle on a gold chain a watch and a wedding band on his left finger. The poster asked anyone who had any information concerning the case to please contact the Jackson county sheriff's office. But the thing was no one would be contacting the Jackson county sheriff's office about this case, no one with a viable lead. Anyway. And in fact, seventeen years would go by before Mike's best friend Brian Winchester would testify in court that he had killed him. Brian would go on to describe a gruesome scene after loading Mike's body into his vehicle, I went back out to the driveway to leave when it went out to the drought way. My driveway was angled, and I was walking behind my truck. And I saw out of the bag tailgate blood was coming out of the back of my tailgate and dripping onto the driveway. And that. Freaked me out. So I rinsed off in. Was trying to figure out I've been thinking on the way from lakes middle of Alcatel Hassi. What what was I going to do with him? I don't know when I decided, but you know, alternately I decided it had to be closed head be quick. And it had to be obviously a location that you know, he wouldn't be found. This is Jillian and you are listening to court junkie episode sixty five. In the early morning hours of December sixteenth two thousand Mike Williams didn't deed intend to go. Duck hunting with his best friend Brian Winchester, they often went hunting together. And in fact, they often did lots of things together. They had grown up in the same town, attended the same schools and their wives. Denise Mike's wife and Kathy Brian's wife were friends, and they even each had a small child around the same age on this morning. However, something was different. Brian had suggested to Mike that they go to a secret special spot. He knew of an told Mike to make sure he brought his waiters with him waiters. Being a waterproof rubber boot that extends from the foot to the chest. Mike met up with Brian at a gas station, and then followed him to lake seminal a reservoir located on the very south western corner of Georgia. They. Pulled into the boat-landing and launched the boat. Brian told Mike they needed to put their waiters on. And so they did Brian then got into the back of the boat. So he could drive Mike was in the friends. What Mike didn't know that morning was that Brian was nervous? He had a plan a plan that was very different than what Mike thought they were going to do. But Brian was concerned about timing. Everything was taking longer than he had anticipated. And he was supposed to be back in town soon to meet up with his father-in-law. It was a pre-arranged alibi an alibi. So no one would suspect that he had ever been with Mike that morning. Brian drove the boat into a deep area and told Mike to stand up, and when he did Brian got up and gave Mike a hard shove effectively shoving him overboard and into the water. It was dark out, and you could tell that Mike was thrashing around in the water. But couldn't tell exactly what he was doing. He didn't appear to be drowning as he had anticipated. Brian reached down and picked up the gun. He had brought and loaded it he drove the boat around Mike circling him like pray. And as he passed by him, he pointed his gun and pulled the trigger. When word got around later that afternoon that Mike was missing the Florida wildlife commission along with Mike's friends and family started searching for him. They found his boat which had washed up on the west shore and his Bronco and trailer. They knew Mike had gone hunting that morning, but they were under the impression that he had gone alone. And they had no idea why he hadn't returned. The days passed, and the searches continued the community felt for my ex-wife Denise and their young daughter, adding to the tragedy was the fact that Mike in Denise had plans to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary on the day. Mike had gone missing. There were extensive searches at lake summit all searches that Brian participated in with everyone around him believing that he was distraught. Desperate and willing to stop at nothing to find his best friend nothing turned up until six months after Mike's disappearance. When suddenly a pair of waiters a jacket a flashlight and a hunting license belonging to Mike was found. But there was something odd about the items all of them were an excellent condition. They certainly didn't look like they had been in the water for six months and the flashlight even still worked. But despite how hard they searched. Mike's body was never recur. Covered. Investigators seem to believe that there had been a tragic boating accident that Mike had gone hunting alone and that his boat had hit a stump causing him to go overboard, and drown in his waiters. And perhaps they couldn't find his body because it had been eaten by alligators. They repeated this theory to reporters. One week. After Mike's personal belongings were found his wife Denise filed a petition in court. She cited the fact that his clothing and hunting license had been found and asked to have him legally declared dead there were life insurance policies, totaling more than one point five million dollars. And Denise had a family to support after all, Mike and Denise had also grown up together. And we're high school sweethearts, Mike was the popular football player and Denise the pretty cheerleader. They graduated high school in nineteen eighty eight attended Florida State University and married in nineteen ninety four. Those who knew Mike knew him to be hard working before he had even graduated. Mike accepted a position as a property appraiser. By all accounts. Mike was a devoted husband and father. He and Denise welcome to baby girl in nineteen ninety nine. She was just eighteen months old when Mike disappeared. In some cases. This might be the end of the story a presumed boating accident with the ongoing theory that Mike spotty was tragically eaten by alligators and his family, his devastated wife and young daughter left to pick up the pieces without him. But that's not where this story ends at all. In fact, it picks up about five years later when much many people following the cases surprise Mike's wife. Denise Mary's Mike's best friend and killer, Bryan Winchester. It was something of a shock to investigators had opened up a cold case investigation into Mike's disappearance. Sure, it could be that Mike's best friend and wife had grown close while comforting each other over their laws or it could be something more sinister. But investigators didn't have any physical evidence to prove that anything was amiss with Mike disappearance back when Mike I went missing the initial team of investigators didn't find anything suspicious about it. And any items they found that had belonged to Mike had long been returned to his family. But still they told reporters that they no longer believed that there had been an accident that they now suspected foul play and even had suspects in mind, and it wasn't just the investigators who had their suspicions. Mike's mother Cheryl was convinced that her son hadn't just died in a boating accident, and she wasn't about to be quiet about her suspicions either. In may two thousand six she took out an ad in the Tallahassee democrat with a picture of Mike and a large headline that read. My son is missing please help me. Find him the ad went on to say quote on the morning of December sixteenth two thousand my son. Jerry, Michael Williams, supposedly went duck hunting at lake Seminole in Snead's, Florida. He never returned at the time of Mike's disappearance. He was thirty one years old. He had duck hunted at lake Seminole for many years when he did not return from hunting that day the thirties. Assumed he drowned and that alligators eight his body. No criminal investigation was done at the time. The ad continued quote eighty people have drowned in lake Seminole since the late eighteen hundreds Mike spotty is the only one that has never been found. Reptile experts have told me that alligators don't hunt or eat in December because the water is to colds. I do not believe my son died in like some all. Cheryl Williams, also worked with the reporter at the Tallahassee democrat to keep Mike's name in the news. She would give various tidbits about the disappearance, but was stopped short of accusing Brian or Denise. When reporters contacted Brian Denise to get their take on the matter. They declined to comment instead saying in an Email that they loved Mike but just wanted their privacy. But everything would change in August of two thousand sixteen turning the entire case onto its head. On August, fifth two thousand sixteen Denise Williams walked into the Tallahassee police department and said she had been kidnapped at gunpoint. She told detectives that she had just gotten into her car that had been parked in her driveway. When someone crawled out of the back and held a gun up to her ribs. Sister. And this person starts binding on the very back, and I couldn't tell I. It was and then immediately I knew who was screaming in the phone help the shooting up and then grabs grabs turn it off. And I never saw it at the end. He goes up in cropping me in people face, pretty hard. And he goes is Cussing in he pulled out a gun like not hunting gun like even with and he put it right here in my ribs, her assailant was none other than Brian Winchester her now estranged husband who she was in the process of divorcing. She said that as she drove Brian hovered over her saying, I just wanna talk to you. I just want to talk to you. He held her against her will for over an hour telling her that he had been emailing and texting her trying to talk her out of divorcing him. But she wouldn't talk to him. And so he had to do this. He told her that he had lost everything and had nothing to live for. Denise told the detectives that she tried calming him down, and that she told him that she knows he loves her and wants to talk to her. But that this wasn't the right way to do it. She said she just started agreeing with him and told him that if he turns his life around and goes back to the Lord he could get her back. She said he eventually calmed down. And let her go after she agreed not to call the police. She was scared of him. She told the detectives and wanted to press charges. After hearing about the kidnapping one of the cold case investigators who had been assigned to Mike's disappearance special agent. Mike Devaney decided to go to the Tallahassee police department and listen in on Denise is interview. And afterwards he went into the room and told her that he wanted to talk to her about Mike's disappearance by this point. He had suspicions not only about Brian's involvement. But also about Denise 'as. He told her that they believed Brian had intended on killing her that day. And he asked her where Brian had tried to get her to drive to. She said he kept telling her to turn by the roundabout. But that she wasn't really paying attention to that agent. Devaney then asked her another question. I. Checking on where there. I mean. I believe in a really believe he done. I do want. I just I just always believed and have. From what he was saying roundabout, I have. I'm talking to people. I can't remember if you want me to turn left, right? What are you saying like perish? Like, I should. Darlie? That's what I've always believed. I believe. Never been printed. Anything different. Lose your proofing humid person that like he would. There's never been a person has fallen or whatever that they've never. The incidences of awesome. Billy. I guess too. Not really. Agent Devaney told her that they had come to the conclusion that Mike did not die on lake seminal. And that they had been hoping that one day either. She or Brian could fill in some of the gaps for them Denise responded that her focus was on what just happened to her and on getting a restraining order against Brian agent. Devaney reassured her that they were going to arrest Brian for what he did that she didn't have to worry about that. Denise said, she still didn't wanna talk about Mike that she wanted to go and file a restraining order before the end of the day. Verse. Not feel to me though. I have not down not restraining order in. That's with is pressing won't be so bad. So I understand that you wanna talk about this. But this is what I wanted to this is what has to be. Today. You know, why supporting you like this is a this is your this is your husband, something hashed? I'll be so interested in again. This is my priority right now. I'm just I'm not talking about this right now does that had an unbelievable day. And this is this is just all too much right now. I just I really one of those something you should learn savior of life. It all ended with was trading agent. Devaney said they were seeing a side of Brian that investigators knew was there Denise responded that she had never seen that side of him before. I do not ever have never very in. My dad. I would have never. Wanted so bad. Actually, I would I mean in my mind, and my heart. David is my brother-in-law. He was just talking to me though. Chinese understand that my life weather danger today should ended having needle back on the whole situation now from the different point of view and. I'm definitely to do that. Do you believe right here? This that. That he had anything to do that. Does that mean that I'm not gonna processed this? And of course, I am that I've been. First and. The interview ended shortly after with agent Devaney telling her I hope it sinking in how bad this could've been Brian was arrested a short time later in charged with kidnapping domestic assaults and armed burglary. Indonesia's petition for domestic violence protection. She wrote, quote, I believe, and I know that Brian will kill me. And or my child if he is released she also wrote I would never wish this on anyone. I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't close my eyes because I always see him rising up out of the back of the car screaming and waving a gun. I can't relax because all I can feel is the gun shoved in my ribs. I can't have peace because I only hear his voice screaming and Cussing at me. After hearing the news, Cheryl Williams told reporters that she hoped the new development with somehow solve her son's case, she said of Brian and Denise they're the only two people that profited from Mike's disappearance. She went on to say that she hopes that one of them will crack and said that sooner or later one will turn on the other Cheryl had no way of knowing for certain just how rate she was. In October two thousand seventeen a little over a year after Bryan's arrest. He pleaded no contest to kidnapping and burglary with a firearm. Denise went to court a couple of months later and testified against him. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison. But Denise was about to be in for quite a shock because little did she know Justice Cheryl Williams had predicted Bryant had started cooperating with police about Mike's disappearance. And in fact, Brian had confessed to killing Mike even leading them to Mike's remains which were found more than fifty miles from lake Seminole. But according to Brian he had an acted alone. According to Brian he and Denise had been having an affair for years and had been planning Mike's demise for months and not only that. But he said Denise was the one who had really wanted him to do it. He told police, quote, I had a good wife. I had a kid, and I had Denise on the side. This is messed up thinking. But in my mind, I had it pretty good Denise and Mike on the other hand they were at each other's throats, and she had two million reasons for this to happen. Then he gave what he said was the reason he could not Denise after they had separated. He said he was paranoid that she was going to turn him into the police. So he held her at gunpoint and made her promise to take their secret to the grave. In may two thousand eighteen two niece was booked into the Leon county jail charged with first degree murder conspiracy to commit first degree murder and accessory after the fact Brian on the other hand scored quite a deal with prosecutors. If he testified against an ace told the truth about what happened he would receive immunity and wouldn't be charged with the murder. Denise attorney Ethan way told reporters before trial that his client had nothing to do. With what Brian Winchester did quote? We will fight this until the end, and I'm certain when a jury hears from Denise Williams, and the facts come out, the inescapable conclusion is that Brian Winchester killed Mike Williams. In his opening statements. Assistant state's attorney John Fuchs told the jury that Brian Denise had been having an affair and that they plotted to kill Mike. He said there were three individual insurance policies, and that Brian an insurance salesman had actually sold Mike the one million dollar policy and while Brian and Mike talked about the policies, Brian. And Denise we're talking about how they could be together. He said Denise didn't wanna be a divorce say that she was from a religious family and didn't like the stigma. So they talked about killing both Mike and Kathy Brian's wife. They talked about going fishing on the boat, and that somehow Mike and Kathy would fall overboard and miraculously Denise, and Brian would be the ones who would be rescued, but Brian said noted that plan because he didn't wanna kill the mother of his child. So they settled on just killing Mike Denise liked the sound of being a widow Fuchs said she would get. More sympathy for that. And could be the center of attention. One of the insurance policies was set to expire in March. So they knew they had to kill Mike before then they also knew they had to make it look like an accident Fuchs said that waiters are notorious for being dangerous if you fall out of a boat they fill up with water, and you can drown. So they came up with a plan for Brian and Mike to go hunting in the dark and Brian would then push Mike overboard in his waiters, and he would drown. Mike and Denise were supposed to go and celebrate their anniversary on the day, he disappeared. But Denise was in a secret relationship with Brian and didn't want to go. So they decided to do it. Then they discussed how to do it. And how to set up their alibis. Fuchs told the jury that they would be hearing from Brian Winchester. And he said Brian story would be corroborated. He said that in October of two thousand seventeen Brian confessed to murdering Mike, and he took police to car lake where he had buried my all those years ago. Officers had to cut away trees pump the water out. And then they found Mike exactly where Brian said he would be in. The autopsy confirmed that Mike was shot in the head. Just like Brian said Fuchs displayed x Ray photos of Mike's head to the jury then x Ray photos of Mike's arms and hands were displayed. We're on his left ring finger. There was a small circle Mike still had his wedding ring on Fuchs said he told the jury that investigators worked to verify Brian story, and they talked to his ex wife, and Denise friend, Kathy, Kathy. And Denise had remained close friends all these years, even despite the fact that Brian and Denise had. Married, Kathy agreed to work with law enforcement and to try to record her conversations with Denise, you won't hear flat out admissions. He said, but Kathy does confront her about a mysterious message. Denise tried to send to Brian after he was arrested Fuchs put Denise his mugshot up on the screen and ask the jury to find her guilty and the twenty one years of their sex lies and deceits and find her guilty of these particular crimes, Denise other attorney, Phillip Ivano told the jury that they wouldn't be disputing the fact that Mike Williams was murdered or that Brian a man he thought was his friend was the one who killed him. But Brian is not on trial. He said, and in fact, Brian has never even been charged with the murder. He told them that since Brian was granted, immunity, he can testify as he pleases without any fear that the state will be able to use that testimony against him. You will have to decide. To believe him pot Vano said saying that Brian's testimony is totally uncorroborated, and he said that aside from Brian's testimony. There is no other evidence against knees, employed English. There isn't anything to back it up. You're not gonna hear evidence from a witness who said that he or she saw Denise Williams participating in the planning the execution of this murder. A you're not going to hear. Any witness talk about DNA evidence or fingerprint evidence. There's no tangible evidence or physical evidence to connect Denise Williams to this crime. No confession. No admission nothing. He said Denise and Mike had a happy marriage by all accounts. And that there was no reason why would be unhappy with him. Mike was a good husband father and provider. He said in may nineteen ninety nine after Mike Indonesia's daughter was born Mike started enquiring about increasing his insurance. His adviser told him that he should have at least a million dollars in life insurance, Brian and his dad were insurance agents and it sold like a smaller policy earlier. So when Mike got this advice, he went back to Brian and his dead to get a bigger policy. But said there was no evidence that Denise participated in any of those discussions about insurance or that she did anything to influence Mike to buy it. He told the jury that there is evidence that contradicts Brian story. For example. There's strong evidence that Brian tried very hard to stay married to Kathy after the murder, even begging her to take him back at their final divorce hearing and Denise had gotten into a serious relationship with another man a man named Chuck bunker after the murder, Brian and Denise did get married, but that was five years after her husband disappeared, he said, they separated in two thousand twelve and in two thousand fifteen Denise filed for divorce Brian tried to save their marriage, but couldn't and in a final desperate attempt. He decided to kidnap her putt Avante. Oh, then described the kidnapping saying that at about two thirty AM on August, fifth two thousand sixteen Brian climbed into the cargo area of Denise SUV. He then waited for her to get up and leave to go to work. He was armed with a gun. Done a tarp and two containers of bleach. Fortunately for Denise. She was able to calm him down by promising that they would work it out, although she had no intentions to. Instead, she went straight to the police, and he was arrested for armed kidnapping. Putt Vano said that Brian has a motive to lie and to make up these allegations against unease. He didn't mention anything about her alleged participation in Mike's murder until after he realized niece was going to ask the court for a life sentence. So at that point he made an agreement for immunity, which ensured that the state would not ask for a life sentence and guaranteed that anything he said about Mike couldn't be used against him. But said he also wanted to get revenge on Denise he asked the court to find her not guilty. Scott Dungy was one of the first witnesses for the state. His testimony was prerecorded and was shown to the jury on a screen. He said he was a longtime friend of Mike and Denise 'as. But that Mike was one of his closest friends. He said he helped search for Mike every day from December through February. He never missed today. He said his hope was that Mike had fallen out of his boat and swim to the other side of the island. He was hoping they would find him alive at one point. He was up in a helicopter searching and noticed a lot of alligators swimming, six months after Mike's disappearance. He was there when waiters a jacket a flashlight and Mike's hunting license were found he said the items were all in excellent shape. Totally sparkman an investigator with the state's attorney's office testified that he was assigned to the case in two thousand seven he was taking over for an investigator who had recently left. He said he found it odd that they never found my spotty that it had never floated up. He said they had never not recovered a body after someone went missing in that lake. He said he eventually became aware that Denise and Bryan had gotten married. Factor into your into the suspicious nature of all this. Yes, it was a. Suspicious matter. Of course, investigators sparkman said, they started reinvestigating the case looking into financial records phone records, conducting interviews and following up on leads. They subpoenaed phone records. But couldn't get them because the phone companies only kept them for so long after seven years. They purge them. And they were outside of that timeframe. He said they started trying together all the evidence that had been collected in the case. But they could only find some items they found the boat, but couldn't find the waiters or the jacket. They got copies of the death certificate signed on June, ninth two thousand one about six months after Mike went missing he said, he learned if the insurance payouts to Denise which heightened his suspicions. He noted that the data of marriage on Denise and Brian's marriage certificate was December third two thousand five thirteen days from the university of Mike staff. We'll get into more trial testimony right after this quick break from today's sponsors. The original true body bra by true and co dot com is the bra women are talking about over half a million women have bought it. 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Michael Devaney, a special agent with the Florida Department of law enforcement or FDLE said he was assigned to the case in two thousand ten he saw that the status of the investigation had changed to a suspicious missing persons case in two thousand four back then investigators couldn't prove that it was a homicide, but they had noted that a lot of things didn't make sense for it to abandon accidental death in December two thousand ten. He said they brought all the investigators together to go over the case they had developed two persons of interest. Denise and Brian. Then possible suspect. Vicious. Well, you have to go back over several things. The investigators there were assigned to this case, including myself, we were very uneasy about the insurance situation. We realized it was Bryant it reached out to try to find out what it would take to get Mike declared dead. It was Brian that we've found out the Brian actually sold a million dollar insurance policy to Mike just before his death on that needed to be researched. We had problems with their insurance policy was Brian a benefactor of insurance falsely. I believe he was was a payout. Go to him or to go to the base Denise for the pay out of the policy would be to the knees. Yes. But despite their suspicions he said, the case was still a cold case. And they didn't have enough evidence to make any arrests agent. Devaney told the jury about his interview with Sinise August of two thousand sixteen after she reported the kidnapping to police when you after about his involvement in Mike waves. She says certainly not crew a never. No, I tried to convince her that everything that was gathered all the information is there that. Desperately could could have been the last day of her life. I was trying to impress honor this. But it didn't seem to connect at any point. Did she say, you know, all these years later, I never believe you would've given what happened today? Navy was true national nothing along those lines national flat out denial. But according to Brian's testimony, Denise did know that he had killed Mike. Bryan, took the stand next and right away called Mike a very good friend. He said he and Denise had actually started their affair back in nineteen Ninety-seven about three years before the murder. He said he had discovered that his wife Cathy had been cheating on him. And that's what led him to eventually end up being with Denise, we all started going out a lot. My wife, and I got the and Denise, and my we started going out to bars, and concerts, and drinking and doing a lot of things that we didn't really do. Well, we were all in college. When probably is more broke create to do those sorts of things, but we started going out a lot of drinking. And I remember one nine particular there were several nights that we did this. But one nine particular we we started talking about sex a lot the four of us. And I. You know, I was friends with the niece in middle school and high school, but I was never attracted to her until that point in. So after we started talking about sexual things things that married couples shouldn't be talking about with each other. I think that's when the spark gonna start between the two of us. He said he and Denise considered their anniversary to be up Tober thirteenth nineteen ninety seven. We were going out like I said going out a lot and one night in particular. We we were going to Floyd's and. And. And so Denise, and I we pulled up on Tennessee street and. Denise not jumped out a car in left, Mike and get to go park the car in went down to the entrance of Floyd's. And that was the first place that we like kissed each other and made out and we had our night out. And then after we all went home to our separate houses operate there. You these made out that night, but Mike resin they were in the car. They were parking the car it was while they were going park in the car. So. Just the four of us. And so later that night after capping I went home and Mike and east went home. She and I got on the phone together. And we basically spent the whole night talking to each other on the phone, and it was just like. I don't know. We just we condemn did. Like, nobody else. I mean, we just really connected, and we had a lot of sexual talk had phone sets, and that sort of thing, and we agreed. And then met up the next day. I think we just met during her lunch break at work. And that's kind of what started the whole ball rolling with her. It also snowballs really fast. He said they met at hotels and during the workday. Whenever Mike was at work. They had sex very regularly. Mike was a workaholic he said and Denise wasn't happy about that. He said they eventually started going on trips together. And that Denise and Mike would go on vacation were Mike would have a conference to attend. And Brian would go there to and meet up with her their sexual relationship continued after Mike staff he said that one occasion after Mike died. He went out with a friend named Angela and ended up sleeping with her. All of a sudden while he and Angelo were together the light came on in the bedroom. And Denise was standing there. He said he lied to Angela and told her that he thought it was his ex wife, Kathy. And then he ran after her. Part of Brian's job was to sell life insurance. He said he sold Mike two different policies one right after they graduated college before he was married to Denise and another one after Mike Indonesia's daughter was born he was asked if he and Denise started planning Mike's murder in the year two thousand I think it even started prior to that as as a thought about this and had plenty of time alone to think about it one thing that I have remembered is the prior year, Mike, and I were on a hunting trip together. And it was at a a lake that was dry, and we had to walk across the mud and the replaces in the mud where I don't know how to describe it. But basically, you could fall through the mud, and there was nothing underneath. It was like it was basically, I guess people call it like quicksand and Mike fell into one of those mudholes at one time. It was just he and I out there, and I helped him out of it. And he he had dropped his gun in there as well. And he ended up going back in after his gun. But anyways, I remember telling Denise about that. And how if I hadn't have been there, or if I have to help them out that, you know, it's very likely he would have disappeared. Nobody would have known what happened to them. But that's just something that I had remembered in the past few months and thinking. About this. But I think it was gradual that we, you know, the more we were together the more we wanted to be together and the more we griped about Kathy and Mike the more. We wanted to be together. He said Denise was adamant that she would not get a divorce. He said this narrowed their options one of the options of Mike Mike worked a lot at night up at his office in one of the options was that we could make it look as if it was a burglary of some sort up at his office, and then he got shot in some type of robbery or something. But as office. Denise didn't like that idea. I didn't like that idea. Denise didn't like that idea. But primarily because there would be investigation if something like that occurred. So another idea we all used to go out on boats a lot in my cat, a boat in another option was that the four of us would go out on a boat onto the Gulf. Me and Kathy. And Denise and mine in we go out in a boat on the Gulf, and basically that Kathy and Mike would be pushed over board. And that Denise, and I would find a buoy way offshore that we could hold onto and either let the boat sink or what the boat take off on his own or whatever and make it look like we had an accident on the water and the Denise and I'd survived the accident. He said eventually it was decided that only Mike would die. In fact, he said he never wanted Kathy today. I had no desire whatsoever for anything to happen the Kathy. I didn't really emphasize that with Denise. Because it was not good for me to express affection in or you know, care about what happened to Kathy with Denise. But silently to myself, I was never going to allow anything to happen to my son's mom, Brian said, Denise 's biggest thing was that. She didn't want to share custody of their daughter if she and Mike were to get divorced. So they decided to go ahead with the drowning while hunting plan. He said it had to be during the duck season. And it couldn't be at any of the shallow local lakes, so they decided on lake Seminole because it was a lot deeper. He said Denise didn't have to do a whole lot for their plan to work. She just had to come up with an alibi for herself and to make sure that Mike went on the hunting trip. He said one week prior to Mike's murder. They had initially set the trip up for that weekend. But late the night before before midnight, Mike. I called him and told him that he couldn't go because Denise didn't want him to go. Bryan said he was shocked because they had already made the plans he called a niece immediately after he hung up with Mike to see what was going on. He said he didn't want her to be wishy washy about it. He told the jury that Denise got cold feet at the last minute. And so they had several more conversations either. We're going to go forward with this are not either going to be together are not he said he said he wasn't happy that she was backing out at the last second. They decided to move forward with the plan one week later the night before he and his wife Kathy went to a concert. He said part of the plan was to get Cathy as drunk as possible. So she would sleep in the next morning. He said the plan was to do it early in the morning, and then he would have enough time to get back and meet his father-in-law to go hunting. Which would then be his alibi? Denise would be at home with her daughter. And when Mike didn't come home. She would start calling her sister and dad from her house phone, so she could prove that she was at home. Brian said that he and Cathy went to the concert the night before and got home late and that Kathy did have a lot to drink. He said he and Denise had talked about giving Kathy some sort of medication. So she would be a heavy sleep. But he couldn't remember if they did it that night or the week prior. The next morning. He met up with Mike at a gas station. Brian had told him that they were going to go to a secret special spot to go hunting and that they needed to use their waiters. He said, there's a duck hunters myth that if you fall overboard with your waiters on you'll sink and drown. So we had to make sure that Mike brought them and put them on Mike followed him to lake seminal, and they pulled into the landing and launched the boat. They got to a deep area. And he said he got Mike to stand up. He doesn't remember what he said to get him to stand up. But when he did he pushed Mike into the water. He was in the water. And he was like struggling. And the motor still running. And I. Pulled off just a little bit to get kind of away from him. So that he couldn't reach back into the vote. And I didn't know at the time. I didn't know if he was trying to swim or I didn't know what was going on. But but what I came to find out or eventually realized was he was taken the waiters and the jacket off. And. He. He got those off in. I think I forgot to tell you about this part before. But but I remember now that that area the lake had a lot of snags a lot of dead trees that come up out of the water. And there's a lot of stumps that come up out of the water. He's over Stopes held on to it. And he was paying it again. And I was panicking. And none of this was like going what how thought it was gonna go. I didn't I didn't know what to do. But. He was he started to yell. I didn't know I didn't know how to get out of that situation. And so I had my going into the boat. The. Live my. Just. I made. One or two circles around. And I ended up. Circling closer towards him. He was in the water. Has passed by. Sean. Brian wiped his eyes with a tissue before continuing. So when shot him. It was dark and there was a bright flash. When that happened. And didn't want to see what happens. So I closed my eyes when the instant of that flash happened. And was moving as this happened. So I turned back around came back to where he was. In. Got to the stump. And I knew I couldn't I couldn't lead in there being shot. So I was going to have to do something to cover this. He said he reached down into the water and grabbed him. There was another landing close by. So he drove the boat over there dragging Mike along in the water. He got out ran back to where their cars were parked and drove his truck to the edge of the water. He put Mike in the back and then pushed the boat back out into the water. He didn't really think that far into what he was doing. He just wanted to get out of the area as fast as he could. He was asked how he was able to load Mike into his truck being that Mike was a little bigger than him. It was not easy. It was pretty. But I had to make it happen. I mean, I had no choice. And I can't even explain like how your body feels in that kind of a situation. I don't I don't unless somebody's been to war. I don't I don't even know how to explain. But like you have so much adrenaline pumping through your body. You're just it's just crazy. But. You know, it wasn't pretty an, and I never I made a purposeful decision to never view him to look it. Look at him. But back the truck, and it wasn't angle to the rail. So the back of my truck was angled down toward the water. And I'm back at all the way down to the edge of the water. So it wasn't. There was no distance involved. But yes, he was very heavy. And it was not easy to do that. I joyce. He sped back towards Tallahassee. He realized he wasn't going to make it in time to meet his father in law. But he didn't wanna call him because he didn't want that to show up on his phone records. He went to the parking lot where they were supposed to meet. But by the time, he got there his father-in-law was gone. So he decided the only thing he could do was to go back, home and happen bed. And pretend like he had overslept Cathy was still sleeping when he got home. So he crawled back into bed from there. He called his father in law and told him he had overslept. I didn't want to wait Kathy up. Obviously because I had what was in the driveway. But I wanted her to know I was there. So I I. I can't remember I said to her. But I think I halfway woke up and said I'm going to go out with the dogs or training dogs. I trained dogs at the time. It was gone for hours at a time from the house doing stuff like that. I I don't remember exactly what I told her about basically wanted her to. I wanted her to know that I was there confirmed that I was there, but not wake up and start asking me any questions about what happened. Why did you ever sleep thing? Like that. So I did that. Then. I went back out to the driveway to leave when it went out to the driveway. My driveway was angled, and I was walking behind my truck. And I saw out of the bag tailgate. Blood was coming out of the back of Monteiro gate and dripping onto the driveway. That. Freaked me out so wrenched out off in. Was trying to figure out I've been thinking on the way from lakes. The middle MacIntosh has he what what was I going to do with him. I don't know when I decided, but ultimately I decided to head he closed and head be quick. And it had to be obviously a location that you know, he wouldn't be found. He ultimately decided to bury Mike spotty and a mud hole at Kerr lake. He went to WalMart and bought a shovel a tarp and weights while he was there. He said he ran into a friend of his Mike Phillips who later told him that he had seemed to be an panic. He remarked to the jury that Mike Phillips had thought he was in a panic because he was going to go help search for Mike. But that really he was going to bury bike Brian dug a hole in an area. He considered to be hidden. He said he was exhausted and kept getting bitten by ants as he dug. He put Mike's body in the hole and covered him up. His truck had blood all over the back of it. So he went to his parents house and parked in the back of their lot. He. A used a hose to try and clean out the back of the truck, but it wasn't working very well. So he left there and went to a car wash that had pressure washers. He cleaned out. The back the best he could with those. He said his dad called him later that night as he was driving back home and told him that Mike was missing he and his dad went over to lake seminal where my friends and family were out searching, they went out onto the lake and searched for Mike. He said a he made the quotation signed with his fingers. He then broke into hysterics store became through that night. Oh, I think we got off the lake before that happened. But. You know, my dad would look. I think we were the last ones on the late. My dad didn't want to give my dad loved Mike. Brian leaned over and put his head down into his lap sobbing. And so the judge told the court they would take a break before resuming. And Brian took the stand again, he said he didn't want to be the one to find my explode. But that his dad was determined to help with the search and to find Mike his dad drove their boat around until they finally came across Mike SPO. The next two months were a blur for him. But he said he spent a lot of time at the lake he wanted to monitor what was going on and wanted to put on a front to make it look like he was looking for Mike like everyone else. He said he and Denise were getting concerned that nothing else was being found out there. He wanted to keep the searches focused on that area and not where he had buried the body. And so during one of his pretend searches he threw a hat that was similar to Mike's into the water that had was eventually found an e told law enforcement that it was Mike's. He said he and Denise had decided that their contact after Mike's disappearance would be minimal when they did talk. He said he didn't wanna tell Denise that their plan hadn't gone the way it was supposed to that. Mike hadn't really fallen into the water. And drowned like they had planned he said Denise had just assumed that that's what happened. He didn't tell her until years later that he had shot. Him. Brian said he wasn't in a hurry to cash out on Mike's life insurance. And that he thought they should lay low for awhile Denise was already getting money from the insurance company and death benefit proceeds, but Brian's dad was concerned about Denise. And so he pushed the policy through. So she could get the money more quickly. That's when they found out that she would need to get the death certificate issued by the court. And so they hooked up with an attorney and she filed a petition with the court to have him declared dead. About three years later. Brian got a call from a deputy wanting to talk about the case, he agreed and went into the police department for an interview he said, it became quite clear to him that they were suspicious of him. And Denise he said, he called Denise freaking out immediately. After leaving that interview they agreed that they would never tell the police the truth about what happened. He said they were arrogantly confident in their agreement with each other. Brian told the court that the niece had been allowing her daughter to spend time with Mike mom, but that one day she found a notebook where Mike's mom had been writing down her suspicions about Mike stuff. He said Denise got really freaked out and didn't want any contact with Mike mom after that. And because of that they became paranoid about being monitored. They agreed to not talk on the phone about it anymore, and they would use hand signals if they wanted to go somewhere to talk about it, one symbol was a C for Mike's mom, Cheryl and the other one mimicked a set of jail bars. When one of them used those signals, they would then go to a park leave their phones in their vehicles and would walk into the park to talk. He said they were very concerned that they were being watched by police. As for why he and Denise didn't get together right after Mike's disappearance. He said they knew that they couldn't because it would look bad. So he and Cathy stayed together until about two thousand four he said that after Denise caught him with Angela she decided to drop him and pursue a relationship with a man named Chuck bunker. He said that made him angry because of all he had done for her including kill her husband. He said eventually Denise and Chuck broke up, and he and Kathy couldn't work things out. And so he and Denise were free to be together. They decided enough time had passed. And so they started dating publicly and got married in two thousand five. Uncrossed examination Brian was questioned about the kidnapping. He admitted he had a loaded handgun a sheet an empty clip for the pistol. But said he didn't have a tarp. When Denise I got into the car. She was on the phone. So he grabbed it from her and hung it up. He said he yelled at her to drive. He doesn't remember what he screamed at her? But she was alarmed at some point he calmed down and realized how ridiculous the situation was. He said he was arrested on August fifth two thousand sixteen and has been in jail ever since he tried to get out on bond, but said Denise opposed his bond at his hearings. He was facing life in prison. But after he made his deal with prosecutors. He was ultimately sentenced to twenty years with a tentative release date of twenty thirty six he said Denise didn't find out about him having shot Mike in the face until after he confessed to police and it came out. Then he said he had tried telling her once, but she told him it was okay that God would forgive them that they didn't have to talk about it. Denise attorney asked him about his behavior at his final divorce hearing with Kathy he said he was upset, but doesn't remember telling her that he didn't wanna go through with it? He said he didn't want to get back together with Kathy. But felt it was the right thing to do. Brian admitted that he was desperate to avoid going to prison, and that he had even had conversations with various people, including his sister about helping him fabricate evidence in his kidnapping case. But he said, none of the people. He talked to ended up helping him. One of those people was a man named Wade Wilson who was a hitman and who had offered to make Denise and other witnesses go away he said in the summer of two thousand seventeen law enforcement learned about his conversation with Wade and it scared Bryan even more his situation was getting worse. An October two thousand seventeen the proper agreement was negotiated. Situation that you would put yourself in with your kidnapping with the obstruction of Justice. You give to the state information relating to where they can find the body of Mike woods. I was asked to provide any and all information that I'm do about the Mike Williams case in exchange for the things that you talked about earlier. And you got the benefits of about earlier that you got one more benefit digit. You got the benefit of seeing Denise Williams arrested locked up at Ross trot. That's gonna benefit got revenge for putting you in the same situation. You wanted to put in. No, sir. I wouldn't want to put anybody in this situation. She got herself in this situation on redirect Brian said that according to the agreement he had to give testimony about what happened to Mike. And if he lied those statements could be used against him. It was made explicitly clear to me, particularly by the five attorneys that I had helping me on my case. That if I wanted to go for and give proffer and give information about the Mike Williams case that absolately positively needed to tell the truth because if there was any element that was not true of what I came forward and said, it whatever I said could be used against me and the agreement would be null and void. Yes, sir. He said that once he gets out of prison. He will be on probation for fifteen years, and we'll be monitored via a GPS system. In Florida, depending on the judge's discretion. The jury may take notes during testimony and then ask witnesses questions. So in this case the jury had three questions for Brian. The first question was if he had ever been on any medications to which he said, no the second question was about the insurance proceeds, and whether there was a plan to pay out the money between him and Denise Brian said that in total Denise would be receiving about two point two million dollars. And that she was the beneficiary on everything. But he said they both knew that he would benefit to after they got together. The last question was also about the insurance money. He was asked if the insurance money was an incentive for the plot. Or simply a bonus he responded that he would characterize it as a bonus. And that they wanted to be together. Either way money was the icing on the cake. He said, a friend of Brian's named Stephen Manoukian. Then took the stand and testified that on August fifth two thousand sixteen after Brian had kidnapped unease but before his arrest Brian called him and told him that he had hit a new low and wanted to talk with him over lunch. So they met up and Brian told him what happened when he had kidnapped unease Brian then told him why he had done it. You. Large. What was the catalyst for him performing that permit alive? He said that on the night. On Thursday night the night before the police came to his house and said that they've been talking to Denise. And once Denise gets, divorced. She is going to talk to police about what really happened to Mike Williams. What does that mean to Bronwyn gesture what did he will? He it made him very nervous. And he really wanted to talk to her about it. And he kept calling her, but she wouldn't answer. So he decided that the best way to talk to be kidnapper. That launch. Right Winchester indicate to you that as Williams was aware of something all the disappearance of Mike Williams. Yes. That prompted him to get her. Yes. Discussing. Yes. A friend of Mike's named Lindsay Lockhart testified that she went to his sister Hazel concert with some friends including Mike, Bryan. And Denise in the fall of nineteen Ninety-seven. She recalled seeing something odd that night. I remember at one point myself my. Angelo's where at the bar, and I looked over. And so. Brian into niece together. And Brian was standing behind these with his arms around her ways and struck me as very odd because Mike was married to be. She said she remembers telling her parents about it the next day. She said that if she didn't know any better, she would have thought Bryan was married to knees and not Mike Angeles. Stafford former co worker, and friend of Mike's testified that she too went to the sister Hazel concert in the fall of nineteen Ninety-seven. She said, Bryan and Denise were quote, very hands on each other and very friendly with each other. She said Mike wasn't normally a drinker, but she recalled seeing him drink that night for the first time ever. In two thousand four she Denise and Bryan were supposed to go out for drinks. Denise ended up canceling in so Angela and Brian went out, and then eventually became intimate that night Denise walked in and saw them, and then left Brian followed her she said Denise wasn't as friendly with her after that almost as if she had done something wrong. An investigator who helped with Brian's plea agreement testified that after Brian gave his statement, he told them he was show them where he buried, Mike. So they went to car lake on the way there Bryan was up tight. But on the way back after showing them the area, Brian remarked. This is a relief. Dr Lisa Flanagan. A medical examiner testified that she examined Mike spotty after it had been found. She said there were a number of skull, fractures and numerous birdshot pellets in the skull the cause of death. She said was a shot gun shot to the head or facial area. A special agent with the FDLE. William Mike ler testified about his agency's efforts to trick Denise into saying something incriminating. He said that in October of two thousand seventeen they attempted to do what's known as a bump or controlled contact with Denise and an informant or undercover agents, an undercover agent named Chuck went to Denise place of employment at Florida State University and intentionally bumped into her in the parking lot. He approached her and said something like my name is Chuck and I served time in jail with Mike, but they didn't quite get the reaction. They wanted Denise screamed get for me. And then went inside the building where she worked and called the Florida State University police agent, Mike Lee said he had to tell them about their operation. He told the jury that at another time another agent place to note underneath his car a note, which she then turned into police at some point eight. Agent Mike ler, so they recruited Kathy Thomas. Brian's ex wife Indonesia's friend to be a confidential informant. He said they conducted controlled calls where the source is given parameters and what should be discussed. And then the call is recorded. This was in mid January two thousand eighteen through February two thousand eighteen just three months before she was arrested. Surgeon Richard Wootton from the FSU. Police department testified that he was contacted by the F D L E who informed him about the operation. They were doing underneath they told him that if she ever called them that he should take charge of the investigation. He said he spoke with Denise several times and noted that she was cooperative and was very interested in getting to the bottom of who had approached her in the parking lot. Nick williams. Mike Williams brother, then testified for the state. He spoke about his brother and said, he misses him all the time. He said their mother Cheryl never believed the allegations theory, and then he helped her try to get the investigation reopened. He said she wrote letters to the governor contacted the FDLE held up posters at different places paid for billboards. And basically did anything she could to get his name out there. He described to the jury a confrontation that he and his mom had with Denise about six months after Mike's disappearance six worlds after might disappear does summer of two thousand and one. We got a cold. She was not happy. She wanted to see both of us. Mom, wasn't driving that point. So we went to her has. And both u n Mr. yes. When you arrive at Denise nieces house was anybody else there. Not on the first occasion. All I remember is our what was that? She wasn't happy about the newspaper article that had mom had finally had some success in gun. Little blurb a little article in the democrat talking about my in what mom's doing to try to get some more attention to the case get an investigation going. She said at the time she did not. She didn't he's. Said she didn't want to hear his name again that say anything in the paper about him again that wanna know anything that mom was doing. About my. She wanted she needed to get on with her life. He said she was very angry. And that she didn't want to hear anything about Mike a gun. It was to the point where she was yelling at them and trying to discourage them from seeking publicity or trying to get the FDLE to investigate. He said they were stunned that she would react that way. They thought that she would want to try and find Mike to Cheryl Williams. Mike's mom testified about another confrontation. They had with Denise this one was years later. It was January eight two thousand five nuclear non were at the restaurant eating lunch. She call Nick on his show on and she should what time shero gonna be at home. Nick, shed, two o'clock. She said, well, I'm coming over the next day was January night that thought that she was going to bring the baby to sue me. For my birthday. We had not seen her since Halloween empty dancing poor starter there. So your birthday next day. It was the very next day January ninth in vitamins duty correctly. The last time you saw as a before Halloween Halloween of two thousand and four through October through from October to January you hadn't seen her right days is the day for your birthday. We should get before. My birthday January eighth. Okay. What happened? Again, I got home and Denise came. Jeannot on the door. We opened the door at Brian was with her. Brian being Brian would just Ryan Winchester. And I asked her I should wears angelie. Because I thought she was bringing inch latest. She me, and she said Angeles taking a nap won't we invited her inside. And she sat down at the table across from a Nick withstanding Brian headed back to the door. Can you said, Cheryl, you know, that Angela and I love you, but buying an I don't like the lives you're telling about us, and I looked at her. And I said Denise what lies are you talking about Brian scream shut your mouth and let her talk. Knit got upset and shed some not nice things to Brian. And then Denise is crying. And she says, Cheryl if you will just stop this investigation. You can see Ansley again. And I told her I should do each. I can't stop this investigation. I wouldn't if I could nip said. Denise markets mama's son, and my brother, and we just wanna know what you went Brian gidget him. Brian should give a Swiss go, we're not getting anywhere, and they left you've ever seen. You ever see again? No, not at my house. Kathy Thomas. Brian's ex wife testified that in the late nineteen ninety s she suspected that Brian in Denise were having an affair. She told of a time in December nineteen ninety nine when she received a phone call from Tallahassee police officer who said he was standing next to her husband's truck, which had been abandoned in a church parking lot. She said Brian had told her he was in Arkansas hunting. So she was confused as to why the truck would be there. She noted that the church was closed to Denise house, then in the spring of two thousand she described a trip to Panama City that the four of them. She and Brian and Denise and Mike were supposed to go on for Denise thirtieth birthday. She said Mike ended up not going and she felt like the third wheel with Brian Denise they ended up going to a strip club together. But she doesn't specifically remember everything that happened that weekend at another time. She said she phoned. To used movie tickets for the virgin suicides in Brian's wallet. She knew she hadn't gone to see the movie. So that raised her suspicions as well. Then in July of two thousand one she found a receipt from the gold center and Brian's office. It was for gold necklace with the name Meridian on it, which was Denise nickname in their group of friends. She said she and Brian separated about a month later in August of two thousand sixteen about a week after Brian had been arrested for kidnapping Denise Denise asked her to give a message to Brian's father, Marcus to then pass onto Brian who is sitting in jail. She wanted me to tell Marcus to tell Brian that she wasn't talking after that Cathy said she started talking to agent Michael an agreed to start working as a confidential informant for them, the recordings between Kathy and Denise were played in court in. One call Cathy said the plan was to say that she had received a subpoena from officer Devaney to come in and talk about the case. She tells Denise in the phone call that she's freaking out about it. Because if you years back Brian had called her upset after he had gotten into a confrontation with Denise boyfriend, Chuck she says that Brian quote told her about Mike and that afterwards. Brian's dead Marcus told her not to say anything. You shot. And then he was mad at you. And so he told me he told me about what happened, Mike. Well, I would love to know what happened tonight. Here's. If they found his remains, and he was beaten on that he was shocked Bryant, homey that you'll print it plant. What? Marcus sure that the Shah later after noon, you know, telling me how to take this to migrate. It would ruin, you know, apparently Brian toll Mark is they talked to me, and he went onto to tell me markets went on to tell me how a life would be ruined. How are we never be able to start over? If stepper Clark was ruined. If. So Marcus new. When you said burn y'all you're talking about me, implying or Marcus or. You brian? And end up Marcus is involved. I mean, obviously, it became a talk to you. No, you know, shut it down shut down. So you know whenever. Kathy. Then brings up the message Denise wanted her to give to Marcus about how Denise wasn't going to talk. But when that doesn't illicit any kind of incriminating response she tells Sinise that she's worried that her current husband rocky never would have married her. If he had known that she knew what happened to Mike. Well, I mean, I know that, you know, something needs because whenever I was going out to sea markets. You're lying. Tell markets to tell behind I'm not talking. And I knew what that man. That's why. Because what they've been doing is. They've been lying to me. And they aligned then, obviously, I mean because you told me the thing about ten say what I wrote in the letter to the jumpers. I did it. And so they're playing everybody against each other. Here's the thing. I don't even care about all that anymore because time has moved on Mike is in heaven. So here is my problem. Here is like my problem is that no India. No, I know in all these years anytime anything ever came up with the guy just sit with my mouth. He never would have married me. He had no. You're talking about something shut capping years later. So then you're saying that years later Ryan told you something Mark is came to use to people came to you to talk to you about this year's actor happened. Had you had you met rocky. Then. I mean, but. That has to do with two people telling you something. Nothing to do anything that you did or anything that you didn't do. In the recordings. Denise never says, anything implicating herself. She just tells Cathy, not to worry about it and says that Kathy didn't do anything wrong that Brian. And his dad had just told her something something that Kathy has nothing to do with. On cross examination. Kathy admitted that she never caught Brian and Denise in the act, but said that she had suspicions that they were having an affair. The jury had questions for Cathy to one of them asked. If anything about Denise or Brian's behaviors stuck out to her on the day, Mike disappeared and she said she recalled receiving a phone call from Denise around lunchtime. Saying that she was looking for Mike and that Brian ended up being late to their family Christmas party. There was supposed to be there by three PM. And when he's still wasn't home from his hunting trip by two pm. She said she left without him. Brian showed up later after they had opened their presence as for Mike. She said, it seemed as if Mike had gone hunting and hadn't come back and other than that nothing was unusual. When asked if Denise appeared to be emotionally distraught after Mike's disappearance. She said, no after Kathy's testimony, the state, then rested. The defense called an attorney from Miami to the stand who is employed by Mike Williams is a state he said Brian's dad contacted him and told him that his son's best friend had disappeared and that an order for his wife to get access to their insurance policies. They needed a death certificate. He met with Brian Brian stead and Denise about it and said that Denise was quiet and had her head down during the entire meeting. The two men were driving the meeting. He said. A friend of Mike's new Mike, Bryan. And Denise from grade school testified that he thought Mike into niece had a very happy marriage. He said Mike never complained about it. And that he seemed absolutely thrilled when they had their daughter. He described Mike as always seeming perfectly content. He was also friends with Brian. And so they used to go mountain biking and fishing together. He said that in July of two thousand sixteen he and Brian went fishing, and that he seemed to be in good spirits, the same as all the other times, they hung out. Mike Phillips was also a friend of Mike Indonesia's from childhood, and he knew of Brian he recalled seeing Brian at lake Seminole a few days after Mike's disappearance, but he couldn't corroborate Brian's testimony that he had seen him at WalMart on the day, Mike disappeared. He said he didn't recall that nor did he recall telling Brian later that he had looked panics. Denise decided not to testify. In his closing arguments. Assistant state's attorney John Fuchs put a PowerPoint presentation on the screen and went over the things the jury knows for sure about the case he said, they know that Mike Williams was murdered. And that he was murdered by Brian. He said they know that Brian had been in love with Denise for a long time and that Brian and Denise had gotten married in December two thousand five thirteen days from Denise and Mike's wedding anniversary. He said, they know that Mike had multiple life insurance policies all of which Denise was the sole beneficiary of and that the million dollar policy was drafted by Brian the summer prior to the murder the question, you have he said to the jury is how does Denise that into the murder? He brought up the testimony from Brian's friend, Steven Manoukian who said that Brian had specifically told him after the kidnapping that he had kidnapped in east because she was about. To tell the police which he knows about Mike's murder that was prior to his arrest. He said he brought up the message that Denise had asked Kathy to give Brian's dad, quote, tell Marcus to tell Brian that I didn't say anything he said, those two facts prove that she was an accessory after the fact. For the conspiracy charge. He admitted that they would have to rely on Brian's testimony, but said his testimony was corroborated. He said Denise also had the motive follow the money. He said Brian wasn't the beneficiary. She was and she only waited nineteen days before she applied to get the money nineteen whole days that's a cold individual. That's a person involved in a homicide. He said as for how Denise is guilty of the actual murder. He said she is by law, a principal, quote, if the defendant helped another person or persons commit the crime of first degree murder. The defendant is a principal and must be treated as if she had done all the things the other person. Did he said Denise had a conscious intent that the crime be committed and said that she encouraged and assisted Brian in committing that crime. He added that according to the law to be a principal. She does not have to be present. When the crime is committed. She is in fact, a principal. He said he also asked the jury to consider her lack of emotion as the evidence was presented in his closing arguments. Denise attorney Ethan way ask the jury to remove any taint of Bryan Winchester from the evidence. They heard if you take Bryan Winchester out of the things that have been presented to you. You have nothing. He said he told the jury that there's no tangible evidence that implicates Denise and Mike's murder. He said this case was investigated over numerous years by numerous agencies. The government always thinks that it's the spouse. He said, they're always the suspect but take out Brian Winchester. And what do you have? He said you have a couple of concert tickets, you have testimony that in nineteen ninety eight Angela went out with Brian and the next morning Denise gave her a dirty. Look, you have testimony of a truck parked at a church, but that wasn't in. Nieces he said, and he pointed out that Angela had lived nearby too. And Bryan could have been with her all of that didn't amount to anything everything presented by the state standing on its own doesn't prove anything. He then addressed the kidnapping again. He said Brian was going to do God knows what to Denise with tarp and a gun, and then he questioned why if Brian really knew this deep Dirk secret about Denise having planned her husband's murder. Why would Denise then go to the police and turn him in? And if she ever had any suspicions that Brian had killed Mike wouldn't she have turned him into the police for that? He said the state bought Brian story for that. The jury doesn't have to after deliberating for eight hours the jury returned with their verdicts. Verses that the niece Williams. We the jury fantas follows as kale one of the indictment. The defendant is guilty of conspiracy to commit first grade murder as to count to the jury and the defendant is guilty of first grade murder, but the jury fan as follows has count three of indictment that event is guilty of accessory after the fact of first degree murder guilty of all charges and since she was convicted of murder, she will face an automatic life sentence. After the trial the nieces attorneys filed three motions one asking for new trial, another one seeking an acquittal and a third requesting to interview six of the jurors. In the motion asking for a new trial. Ethan way ruled that there isn't enough evidence to support a guilty verdict and said they have concerns about how the prosecutor told the jury to consider Denise 's lack of emotion during the trial in their motion to interview six of the jurors. They referenced a new story from after the trial that indicated that one of the jurors said they considered Denise 's demeanor and reaction in their verdicts. Denise is scheduled to be officially sentenced in February. As always I'd love to hear what you think about this case. Do you think Denise was involved in the planning of Mike's murder? Did you find Brian's testimony to be credible? Do you think you would have convicted if you were on the jury you can let me know by emailing me at podcast at court junkie dot com or tweeting me at court junkie pod. And just a reminder if you'd like to hear these episodes early and add free, please consider donating as little as a dollar a month by going to court junkie dot com slash support. This will redirect you to my Petri on page. Thanks again for listening until next time.

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