"Sex, lies, and deceit:" Denise Williams murder trial begins

Published: Dec. 11, 2018 at 10:13 PM CST
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Sex, lies, and deceit for 21 years is how prosecutors summed up their opening argument in a nationally watched trial in Tallahassee.

Forty-eight-year-old Denise Williams faces life in prison for her former husband's murder and an alleged 18-year-long coverup.

Her defense says nothing but the confession of a convicted felon ties her to the crime.

Denise Williams and her husband's best friend, Brian Winchester, started sleeping together three years before the then 31-year-old Mike Williams disappeared on a duck hunting trip in December 2000.

His body was presumed eaten by alligators.

Fast forward 16 years. Winchester and Denise have married and separated.

He kidnapped her at gunpoint, fearing she would pin the murder on him.

She talked him down, then went to police.

On the day he was sentenced for kidnapping, she asked for the maximum.

“It comes down to it’s my life or his,” said Williams.

Unknown to Williams, Winchester had already spilled his guts to investigators.

“And I ended up shooting him [Mike],” Winchester told police.

He also claimed Denise helped plan everything.

The alleged motive was $1.75 million in life insurance that she collected.

After interviewing 100 jurors, the trial began with prosecutors telling them it was time to end 21 years of sex, lies, and deceit.

Denise’s lawyer, Philip Padovano, told the jury they would have plenty of reasonable doubts before the trial was over.

“He [Winchester] felt as though Mrs. Williams threw him under the bus by turning him in for kidnapping and that he should now throw her under the bus,” said Padovano.

The state has taken the death penalty off the table, but Denise Williams could face life in prison on any of the three charges; conspiracy, murder, and being an accessory after the fact.

Brian Winchester received immunity for his testimony against Denise Williams.

He is serving a 20-year sentence for kidnapping her.

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