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Williams Trial Day 4: Jury Weighs Conspiracy, Murder Charges In Death Of Mike Williams 18 Years Ago

Denise Williams and her attorney face Judge James Hakinson as he explains her decision not to let the jury consider reduced charges. 12/13/2018

A jury is weighing the fate of Denise Williams. She’s accused of planning the murder of her first husband 18 years ago. If convicted of the most serious 1st degree murder charge she could face life in prison. 

During closing arguments Friday,  state prosecutors say when Williams was directly accused of being involved with the murder, she didn’t outright deny it. In a recorded conversation between Denise Williams and Brian Winchester's ex-wife Kathy Thomas, Thomas accuses Denise of planning the murder with Winchester. 

“She’s just accused of murdering her ex-husband by her friend and her concern is that Marcus was involved? That’s her issue?” 

The conversation between Denise Williams and Thomas was one of several recorded earlier this after, after Mike Williams's body was found following Brian Winchester's confession that he shot Mike and buried him. 

Winchester and Williams married five years later. 

Winchester is serving a 20 year sentence for kidnapping Denise Williams at gunpoint as the couple's marriage fell apart. He says he killed Mike Williams to be with Denise and did so at her behest. Defense attorneys say Winchester is lying in to get revenge against Denise.

“[He's] looking at life in prison, and the judges colloquial nickname is ‘Hangman?’…young Mr. Winchester, he had some issues," Denise Williams's defense attorney Ethan Way said in his closing argument. "He’s not a free man, he’s in jail. Denise Williams doesn’t want him out of jail, she’s scared of him, terrified of him. He kidnapped her at gunpoint. Threatened her.”            

Way argues the state's case hinges on Winchester's testiomy, and nothing else. Winchester has stated he had an affair with Denise Williams while she was married to Mike and he was married to Kathy Thomas. 

During her testimony, Thomas says she suspected an affair between the two, but had no evidence. Other witnesses say the affair may have begun during a Sister Hazel concert at Floyd's music store three years prior to Mike Williams's death. 

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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