Brandon Marshall Recalls Shock At Teammate's Murder
Star Receiver: Angry Gang Members Rejected Invitation To Party With Broncos
Last Updated: 1183 days ago
The trial of a man accused of killing Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams entered its fourth day of testimony Friday with dramatic testimony from Brandon Marshall.Prosecutors said Willie Clark fired the fatal shots into a stretch limousine Williams was in, killing him almost instantly on New Year's Day 2007. The shooting followed an altercation involving other Denver Broncos in and outside the Safari Club on Broadway. Clark faces charges of first-degree murder, 16 counts of attempted murder and other charges.Broncos star Brandon Marshall choked up as he recalled learning that teammate Darrent Williams had been shot dead the night they had been out celebrating early New Years Day 2007.Marshall and Williams had gotten into separate limousines after leaving the Safari Club where Marshall and other Broncos got in altercations with several men, whom prosecutors say were murder defendant Willie D. Clark and fellow gang members.As his limo rolled up Speer Boulevard, Marshall said he saw several police cars and an ambulance beside the stopped white Hummer stretch-limousine carrying Williams and his party."I remember saying: Man, thats D-Wills' limo, stop," Marshall recalled, using his teammate's nickname.But a friend said they should keep going, Williams' limo had probably just gotten pulled over for a traffic stop.Marshall expressed disbelief when teammate Nate Webster called him as he rode home in the limo to say Williams had just been shot.I said: 'Man, shut up. Stop playing,' "because Nate was a big jokester on our team." But Webster was serious. Marshall said he called 911 trying to confirm the report without success. Soon, he learned from someone else that Williams had been shot. Marshall rushed to the hospital where he found stunned teammates and coaches in a room. He recalled devastated teammate Javon Walker entering the room, clutching a bloody diamond pendant on a chain -- a prized possession of Williams. 'D-Will gave me this chain," Walker repeatedly said, Marshall recounted. "He just told me hold the chain He wouldnt let nobody touch that chain. "It was kind of scary," Marshall said. "There was blood on the chain, blood all over."Earlier, Marshall identified a photo of accusing killer Willie D. Clark as a man waiting in the line outside the Safari who scowled and talked trash when the football player got a bouncer to let him, Elvis Dumervil and their party to swiftly enter as VIP guests. The short man with designer sunglasses and a hooded camouflage-jacket turned and said: You know we street n---ers, we got money too, Marshall recounted. Having grown up among gang members in a rough ghetto neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Marshall said: Being where Im from, I tried to defuse the situation. I said to him (Clark): If Im not the only one with money, drinks on yall tonight, Marshall joked. The guy with the glasses, he didnt laugh. He stayed serious, Marshall said. But a skinny, light-skinny man with the short guy laughed and said: What are you drinking? Marshall replied: It doesnt matter, just meet me by the bar. Marshall said the Broncos' party was given free entry and VIP rooms because the players brought celebrity power to the club that night. So, Marshall said: I tried to diffuse it, by offering drinks. I also told the bouncer, Make sure those two guys get in along with some other guys. He pointed out Clark and the skinny guy, identified as gang member Daniel "Ponytail" Harris, to the bouncer. It turned out to be a mistake. Marshall said he later saw the same two men getting in the "face" of Williams and his friends and throwing gang signs in their third-floor VIP room. Other witnesses said the altercation began when Marshall's cousin, Blair Clark, angered the gang members by spraying them with champagne during the midnight New Year's Eve hoopla. Marshall insisted no bubbly was sprayed, but someone could have spilled some opening a bottle. Marshall said he and Dumervil rushed over and tried the calm the two irate men down. "I said, 'Like, man we got all these bottles of champagne up here, all these women, it's New Year's, man, everybody chill out," Marshall recalled. "It's not that serious Man, just party with us." "(Clark) told Elvis, 'No, you get your homeboys, you tell them to chill out,' " Marshall said. The confrontation appeared to blow over. But later, Marshall said, he and his friends got in a dispute with the same men outside the club. Curses were exchanged and Marshall said the men were throwing gang signs. He said Clark raised his shirt as if he had a gun tucked in his waistband. "I said, 'Man ,you ain't got no f***ing gun!' " Marshall recalled. "Then (Clark) put his hand in his jacket like this, like simulating a gun," Marshall said. "This is when I got angry," the receiver added. "My first words were, 'goddamn, man, I done offered you guys drinks twice tonight. I done offered you to party with us," said Marshall, upset that the same men were still hassling his group. "I kind of got angry at the time, and probably escalated the situation," Marshall admitted. "But I was just so angry that the whole night, I mean, it's New Years, were trying to diffuse the situation, trying to have fun. For it to still be going on afterwards. I kind of got angry." Suddenly, the two groups, separated by a steep snow bank, were exchanging curses and insults. People started grabbing each other. Marshall said he charged up the snow bank toward the men. One of the men punched him in the jaw and he slipped down the slick bank, he added. He identified gang member Daniel "Ponytail" Harris as the guy who punched him. Marshall said the gang members then ran away and he hurried to get his friends into the limo, fearing that the men had run for guns.Before Marshall testified, a Denver police homicide detective walked jurors through crime-scene photographs of the bloody, bullet-riddled limousine where Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams died early New Years Day 2007 in what prosecutors call a gang-revenge slaying. Detective Mark Crider narrated the photographs showing the interior of the white Hummer stretch-limo strewn with personal belongings after 15 passengers had fled the bullet-strafed vehicle and the wounded had been carried out by friends.Williams, a popular young player, bled to death from a gunshot to his neck in the arms of teammate Javon Walker. Two other passengers were wounded. The photos showed blood smeared on a passenger door frame and armrest.They showed bloody bullet slugs, marked with yellow, numbered evidence tags, that were found on the floor of the limo and the pavement of Speer Boulevard near 11th Avenue after someone in a white Chevrolet Tahoe raked the limo with gunfire.The photos revealed how the gunfire pocked the length of the drivers side of the limo and shattered a rear-window where Williams was sitting. Crime-scene technicians also photographed yellow cord that crisscrossed the interior of the limo, tracing the path of bullets that pierced the passenger cabin.A young woman recounted on the witness stand about surviving being shot in the head while riding in the limousine where Williams was shot to death.Nicole Reindel, then a senior at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said shed gone out night-clubbing with some girlfriends on New Years Eve.While celebrating at a club called Spill, she and her friends were invited by then-Denver Broncos receiver Javon Walker to ride in his limousine to the Safari Club. There Reindel and her friends joined Walkers Broncos teammates, including Williams, Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil.After a couple hours at the club, Reindel said she and her girlfriends joined Williams in his white Hummer stretch-limo. In what prosecutors called a move that likely saved her life, Reindel said she bent over to speak on her cell phone as a bullet struck the back of her head,I didnt realize that we had been shot at, the woman said, adding that a friend pulled her to floor of the limo as others hit the deck. Another passenger, Nick Washington, had earlier described hearing the Ping! Ping! Ping! of bullets ricocheting around the inside of the limo. After the limo veered to a stop on the roadside, Reindel looked up and saw the Hummers windows were broken. She wondered if a rock had crashed through the glass. But Reindel said when she got out of the limo, she realized the back of her head was bleeding profusely. Her friends helped apply pressure to slow the bleeding and an ambulance soon whisked her to a hospital. The bullet is still in my head, said Reindel, who hopes to eventually have it removed.Earlier, a defense attorney continued to insinuate that a key prosecution witness might be the trigger man who killed Williams.Attorney Darren Cantor grilled convicted drug dealer Felix Abram Friday about whether Daniel Ponytail Harris had a gun and was the biggest hothead in a fight with Broncos players outside a nightclub before the deadly shooting early New Years Day 2007.Prosecutors say Harris was in the white Chevrolet Tahoe from which murder defendant Willie D. Clark allegedly strafed a limousine with gunfire, killing Williams and wounding two others.The defense has strived to suggest that Harris and other gang members not Clark -- might have killed Williams. They contend Clark was nowhere near the white SUV when the barrage of shots was fired.Harris was facing possible life in prison on a federal drug case, but may only serve five years in prison in return for his testimony against Clark. He was also granted immunity in the Williams slaying.While questioning Abram, who calls Harris his best friend, Cantor repeatedly pointed out that Harris fled the country to Mexico after Williams killing.Cantor stressed that Abram told police he would telephone Harris, urging him to return to the United States to tell police about his fight with Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall and the players cousin outside the Safari club before the shooting.I need to tell him, You f***ed up about trippin in that crowd and youve got to go explain (to police), Cantor quoted Abram telling police. Youve got to come talk to these people or theyre going to come for you. Abram said he was looking out for my friends best interest. They best you can possibly do is go there and talk to (police) and let them know you had nothing to do with it -- if you had nothing to do with it, Abram testified. If he did something wrong he would probably stay on the run. Harris is now in custody and both he and Abram are under the protection of the U.S. Marshals. Cantor noted in court that, for Abrams protection, the marshals barred a news media artist in the courtroom from sketching his picture. Abram said that he was also facing a potential life sentence in a federal drug trafficking case, but agreed to a plea bargain that could cut his prison time to seven years. Cantor noted that when a detective asked Abram who was the biggest hothead during fights with the Broncos outside the club, Abram said PT, using the abbreviation of Ponytail Harris nickname.Cantor asked Abram about his shifting story under police questioning about whether hed ever seen Harris with a gun.Not that night, I didnt see him with no weapon, Abram replied, referring to the night of the shooting. But when Canter again pressed if Abram had ever seen Harris with a gun, he first replied No, sir.But Abram later changed his story to say, he mightve seen Harris fire a gun in air on the Fourth of July. Cantor aggressively questioned Abram, a colorful, clever talker who frequently gave lawyer-like non answers to questions.The defense attorney called Abram a liar and gave repeated examples of him sidestepping prosecutors and police questioning.While reviewing photo lineups for suspects from that night, Abram told detectives he couldnt remember the last name of his best friend, Harris, who was photographed in the lineup.Abram said he had trouble remember his name at the time.So, youre telling this jury that your best friend, you didnt know his last name in 2007? Cantor demandedYes, Abram added.