Denise Williams sentenced to life for husband's murder

Published: Feb. 6, 2019 at 8:05 AM EST
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By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News

February 6, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Denise Williams was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the murder of her husband Mike Williams. The mystery-turned-murder that spanned 18 years ended in just 15 minutes.

Williams did not say a word during the hearing. The only person who spoke was Mike Williams’ grieving mother. She made an emotional plea to the judge.

“When I try to sleep at night, I will see my son clinging to a tree stump in Lake Seminole in the dark, knowing that his best friend is trying to kill him. I hear his voice screaming for help. I wasn't there to help him. It will haunt me forever," she said.

Cheryl Williams’ voice cracked and she fought back tears as she pictured her son Michael Williams' final moments.

He was killed at the hands of his best friend Brian Winchester and his wife Denise Williams. Winchester admitted to pulling the trigger and Denise was found guilty of plotting the murder in December 2018.


"I am asking you to lock Denise Merrell Williams Winchester up for the rest of her life," Cheryl Williams told the judge.

"Ms. Williams, I do adjudicate you guilty,” Circuit Judge James Hanksinon said. “I sentence you to life in prison."

That life sentence was no surprise. It’s mandatory for a first degree murder conviction in Florida.

"I don't like having to ask the judge to put her in jail for the rest of her life, but what she did to Mike, she deserves, and I think God gave us justice," Cheryl Williams said after the hearing. "If she's locked up forever, you can't say you're happy. I'm not happy because I don't have Michael."

"Jon, thank you," Williams said as she shook prosecutor Jon Fuchs’ hand afterward. "My pleasure, ma'am," Fuchs responded.

Mike Williams' friends and family swarmed his mother afterward, hugging her and shaking her hand. Some of Mike Williams' friends embraced outside.

"When he finally gave her that sentence of life, it was just amazing and peaceful," longtime friend Marya Denmark said. “We were all very nervous at first, but once we heard that, it was a nice peace in the room.”

"It was good," friend Denise Brogdon said before starting to cry.

"Denise Williams is innocent," defense attorney Ethan Way said after the hearing. He’s promising a swift appeal. "Today is not the end of anything. It's the beginning of a review at the appellate court."

Cheryl Williams, the woman who pushed for answers for 18 years, headed straight to the cemetery after the sentencing hearing, saying there's no closure, only justice.

"We're not finished. Not yet, but today I feel like Mike has a little bit more peace," Cheryl Williams said.

Denise Williams is still facing charges of insurance fraud. She’s accused of cashing in on Mike Williams' million-plus dollars in life insurance.

Confessed trigger man Brian Winchester got immunity for leading deputies to Mike Williams’ body and testifying against Denise. He's serving 20 years in prison for kidnapping her at gunpoint.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News

February 6, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Denise Williams was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday morning for the murder of her husband, Mike Williams.

In December 2018, a jury found Denise Williams guilty of plotting Mike Williams' murder with his best friend, and her future husband, Brian Winchester. The first degree murder conviction carried a mandatory life sentence.

The sentencing hearing lasted only 15 minutes.

Cheryl Williams, Mike Williams’ mother, made an emotional statement to the judge, saying in part, “There is no amount of prison time that can bring Mike back to me. I am asking you to lock her [Denise] up for the rest of her life with no chance of parole. She has already lived 18 years more than Mike.”

To watch the full sentencing hearing, see WCTV's Facebook Live stream below.

Denise Williams Sentencing

WATCH LIVE: Denise Williams is set to be sentenced to life in prison Wednesday morning for the murder of her husband, Mike Williams. More:

Posted by on Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Denise Williams' attorney, Ethan Way, said he intends to file an appeal immediately after the hearing, saying his client was "wrongly accused and wrongly convicted."

For more on the Mike Williams case,