CRIME
12/12/2018 07:52 pm ET

Love Triangle, Not Alligators, Caused Florida Man's Death, Confessed Killer Testifies

Brian Winchester testified this week in the 2000 slaying of his friend Mike Williams.

A Florida man testified this week about fatally shooting his best friend ― who was long suspected of falling victim to alligators ― because he was having an affair with the friend’s wife.

Brian Winchester told a courtroom in Tallahassee that he killed his best friend, Mike Williams, in 2000 and hid his body because he was having an extramarital relationship with Denise Williams, who is now on trial for first-degree murder, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

“We were best friends; Bonnie and Clyde ... partners in crime,” Winchester, 48, said in court of the affair.

Winchester’s remarks came as the prosecution presented its case against Williams on Wednesday, the second day of testimony.

Brian Winchester sits on the witness stand in Tallahassee, Florida, on Dec. 12, 2018.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Brian Winchester sits on the witness stand in Tallahassee, Florida, on Dec. 12, 2018.

According to prosecutors, Denise Williams collected $1.75 million from life insurance claims following the death of her 31-year-old husband.

She and Winchester married in 2005, but the relationship eventually fell apart. Winchester is now serving a 20-year prison sentence for kidnapping her in 2016.

Winchester confessed last year to fatally shooting Mike Williams after prosecutors agreed not to put him on trial.

He told jurors he and Denise Williams began having an affair in 1997.

“The more we were together, the more we wanted to be together,” Winchester said. “Overall, it was very mutual. We wanted to be together — and we weren’t going to let anything stop that.” 

He said the two plotted together how to kill her husband — a plan he said was put into action on Dec. 16, 2000.

Denise Williams listens during her trial for the murder of her husband Mike Williams on Dec. 12, 2018.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Denise Williams listens during her trial for the murder of her husband Mike Williams on Dec. 12, 2018.

Winchester testified that he lured Mike Williams out to Lake Seminole under the premise of duck hunting. Once out on the water, he said he pushed his best friend out of a boat in hopes he might drown. When Williams grabbed a stump, Winchester said he was forced to improvise.

“I didn’t know how to get out of that situation, so I loaded my gun and made one or two circles around and I got closer to him and he was in the water and as I passed by, I shot him in the head,” Winchester said.

He detailed for the jury how he pulled Williams’ body into the boat, took it to a secluded area in northern Leon County and buried it in a makeshift grave.

A recess was taken to give Brian Winchester time to collect himself before continuing his testimony.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
A recess was taken to give Brian Winchester time to collect himself before continuing his testimony.

At the time, no one — aside from Denise Williams, the prosecution alleges — knew that anyone had been with Mike Williams on the lake that day. When he failed to return home, a search party was organized. His truck was found parked along the shoreline and his canoe was discovered floating nearby.

The missing man’s hunting license, jacket and hip waders were later found in the water, according to CBS’ “48 Hours.” The discoveries reportedly led investigators to suspect Williams had fallen into the water and been devoured by alligators.

The location of Mike Williams’ body remained a mystery for 17 years.

“They found Mike, exactly where Brian said he would be,” prosecutor Jon Fuchs told jurors during opening arguments on Monday.

During his own opening remarks, Denise Williams’ defense attorney, Philip Padovano, told jurors there is “no tangible evidence” tying his client to the crime. He said they should consider the source of the allegations, Tallahassee’s WTXL-TV reported.

“The issue you’re going to have to decide is whether to believe him,” the defense attorney said of Winchester. “All you’re going to have to go on is the word of the man who actually committed the murder.”

Denise Williams’ trial continues Friday morning.

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