Defense attorneys comment on audio recording of murder suspect

Published: Jun. 4, 2018 at 6:52 PM EDT
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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 5, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Murder suspect Denise Williams is set to appear in court, as new audio recordings shed light on the case against her.

Denise Williams is in jail without bond. She was arrested in the 2000 murder of her then husband, Mike Williams.

Williams vanished during a duck hunting trip on Lake Seminole.

The indictment accuses Denise Williams and Brian Winchester of plotting the murder over nine months.

Brian Winchester laid out the details of the plot to investigators last October. The audio of the conversation with investigators has now been released.

Winchester told investigators the conversation about killing Williams came up a lot between him and Denise.

Winchester says Denise would always say, if anything ever came out, all she'd have to say was the only thing she knew was Williams left to go hunting and never came home.

Winchester says he and Denise did not get married right away after Williams' death. He says during their marriage, he believed he and Denise had somewhat of an unspoken understanding that neither of them would tell on each other.

"Over time, as things got worse in our relationship, through things she would say, she made it clear to me that if anything ever came out, I would take the fall for it and she would get off Scott free," Winchester said.

Winchester told investigators he and Denise had been having an affair for three years. He says Denise didn't want to get divorced because of public perception.

"I didn't want to get divorced, but I ended up saying that I would get divorced. That was kind of when it was decided she's not going to, she would not get divorced. So, she basically said, there's only one solution," Winchester said.

Winchester says if it weren't for Denise, he would not have killed Williams on his own.

Tim Jansen, Winchester's attorney, says if compelled, Winchester would testify in court to what he's saying.

Jansen commented on how Williams' death stayed secret for 18 years.

Jansen said the recordings allege, "They had some codes. They did some things. They had some anti-tape recording, anti-eavesdropping mechanisms that they both employed during their relationship."

Denise Williams' attorney, Ethan Way, released the following statement Tuesday:

Winchester told investigators the murder plot ultimately came to fruition at the time it did because Denise felt like she was running out of time.

He says she felt pressured to have another baby, and she didn't want to go on an anniversary trip that was approaching.

Winchester says another main reason for the timing of the murder was Williams had three insurance policies--the first policy $250,000, the second policy $500,000 and the third policy $1 million.

Winchester says the $500,000 one was about to end, and he says Denise wanted to cash in while the policies overlapped.

In responding to whether Winchester's version of events is believable, Jansen said, "When she came to his sentencing and she asks the judge to give him a life sentence, she claimed, it's either his life or my life. If that's true, maybe she knew something that day and said something that sheds light on her knowledge."

Denise Williams will be back in court Wednesday to request bond again.

By: Alicia Turner | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 4, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Newly released evidence sheds light on the events leading up to, during and after the murder of Mike Williams.

A few weeks ago, Denise Williams, Mike’s widow, was arrested for the murder. In an interview with Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the accused trigger man tells the whole story.

“Why was Mike the one that was chosen to be killed, not Cathy?”

That was just one of the dozens of questions Brian Winchester answered as he laid out the plan of how he and Denise would murder Mike Williams.

Brian says the murder stemmed from an affair between he and Denise.

"She didn't want to get divorced and neither did I."

In the interview, Brian details how the affair between he and Denise started in 1997. It included trips to places like New York and Miami.

“There was a lot of communication between Denise and I from then until 2000, you should be able to pull the texts,” Winchester said.

It wasn't until three years later when the conversations turned to murder.

"The subject of Mike or Cathy's death started coming up in conversations," said Winchester.

According to Brian, he could never kill his wife, because he didn't want to take his son's mother away from him.

"There were scenarios that were discussed including all four of us, like a boating accident where only Denise and I made it to safety. Then there were ones with just Mike and Cathy, I nixed that. Then it was just Mike,” Brian said.

Brian says once the decision was made of who, it was just a matter of how and when.

"So the plan was I would go meet Mike and go do the crime, and then come back in time to meet my father-in-law to go hunting, he's my alibi," Brian told investigators.

Brian goes on to say he and Mike met to go hunting. He told Mike not to call his phone because it wasn’t working. That too was part of the plan to make sure there was no record of the two ever having been together.

Once they got to the lake, Brian was the one driving the boat. According to Brian, he pushed Mike into the water hoping he would drown because of his hunting gear, but he didn’t.

"I didn’t know what to do, and I ended up shooting him. I found him in the water and drug him to the shoreline. I went and got my vehicle and brought it back to where we were. I backed my Suburban down to the edge of the lake, and put his body in the back and pushed his boat back out into the water."

Brian says the first thing he did was go home. He climbed in bed next to his wife and pretended to be just waking up. He says everything at the lake took longer than expected and he could no longer go hunting with his father-in-law. He made sure to call him from the house phone as a record of him being home and having to cancel plans because it was too late in the morning to go hunting.

Brian says his first stop was at Walmart to buy a tarp and weights. He drove around for hours before burying Mike’s body; and then again to find a place to clean the evidence out of the back of his truck. Brian recalls being on the way to a Christmas party when he got the call that started it all

"I got a call from somebody saying that Mike was missing, and we needed to go look for him."

Brian did help look for Mike, despite knowing all along where he was buried. Brian said during the interview that he had gone back to where Mike was buried nearly a dozen times after it happened.

By: Alicia Turner | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 4, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- New evidence has been released in the murder of Mike Williams. Videos, recordings and photographs were made public just weeks after the arrest of his widow, Denise Williams.

Brian Winchester, the man who admits to pulling the trigger in December 2000, was emotional as he described the day he killed Mike Williams.

"We went out like we were going hunting. We got to the area of where his waders and jacket were found. I got him to stand up and I pushed him into the water. He got his jacket off and his waders off and he was in a panic, obviously, and I was in a panic. I was driving the boat. I didn't know what to do. I ended up shooting him," Winchester said in the audio recording of his statement to authorities.

He claims Williams' widow, Denise, was the mastermind. Winchester goes on to say that he and Denise were having an affair and planned for weeks how to kill Mike.

Winchester said he refused to kill his own wife because he didn't want to do that to his son.

Winchester said after the murder, he rode around for hours with Mike Williams body in the back of his SUV before deciding to bury it at the end of Gardner Road. He said he then went to a car wash to "get rid of the evidence."

In the interview, Brian Winchester explained that he helped search for Williams’ body, despite knowing what happened.

Mike Williams' body

when Winchester revealed the location during an interview with investigators. The grave was more than 50 miles from Lake Seminole, where Winchester said he shot Mike Williams.

According to Winchester, the initial plan was for Mike to fall into the water and drown. He said both he and Denise were hoping it would look like an accident.