Jury gets case in Williams’ slaying

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 Denver 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.