A Florida widow was found guilty of murder in connection to her husband’s 2000 slaying that was staged as a boating mishap.
Denise Williams, 48, was convicted Friday in the death of her high school sweetheart, Mike Williams, who disappeared in December 2000 while on a hunting trip to Lake Seminole in Florida. She faced charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy and accessory after the fact.
The jury deliberated for around eight hours before finding Denise guilty of all charges. The murder charge comes with a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Both Denise and Mike’s families appeared to be emotional after the verdict was read.
Prosecutors argued Denise was having an affair with Mike’s best friend, Brian Winchester, before his death. They alleged the lovers plotted to kill him so they could be together and she could cash in on his $1.75 million life insurance policy.
As part of an immunity deal, Winchester confessed last year to luring Mike on a boating trip and then shooting him in the face.
With search crews unable to find Mike’s body, authorities determined that he likely accidentally drowned and was eaten by alligators.
Denise and Winchester allegedly carried on with their relationship after her husband’s death, but kept things under wraps until they married in 2005 nuptials. The pair divorced in 2016.
When their relationship soured, Winchester allegedly became paranoid that Denise would tell authorities the truth about Mike’s disappearance, according to his testimony.
He was arrested in 2016 for kidnapping Denise at gunpoint to convince her not to turn him in to police.
While he awaited trial for kidnapping, he was offered immunity in Mike’s case if he confessed about the disappearance.
The details Winchester provided to police were corroborated by the discovery of Mike’s body in Carr Lake, which was miles from where the friends grew up.
Winchester’s confession led law enforcement to arrest Denise in May from her office at Florida State University.
In the five-day trial, Denise’s lawyers maintained her innocence claiming that she didn’t have any knowledge Mike was murdered.
They argued Winchester was a jilted ex-husband who previously lied to authorities. Winchester is currently serving a 20-year sentence for kidnapping Denise.
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