When I worked as a criminal defense attorney, I represented many clients who could be considered “bad guys.” I had clients who committed theft, stalking, battery, and burglary; clients who got caught driving drunk three or four times; clients who were registered sex offenders. Of all those people, there was only one time I actually felt a little creeped out and like my client might actually be a bad guy — this was the time the prosecutor showed me pictures of what my client did to his girlfriend. (I used a coping technique I developed that time I tried to volunteer at the Anti Cruelty Society and they make you go though orientation, which involves watching a video of people euthanizing animals. This coping technique involves pretending you are looking at something you don’t want to see while actually looking just off to the side so you don’t actually see it.) The prosecutor was trying to rattle me before we presented our arguments on sentencing for a probation violation to the judge, and it totally would’ve worked had I actually looked at the pictures. (For the record, I don’t think it’s cool for a dude to beat his girlfriend. I do, however, strongly believe in the Constitution and the rights of individuals accused of crimes, especially their right to counsel.)
I don’t know if it’s because I’m a soft hippie or if it’s because even bad guys don’t seem so bad when you actually talk to them, but I genuinely liked most of my clients. I still remember many of them today, like the guy who, despite my best legal, logical, and emotional arguments (the best way to succeed as an attorney is to figure out what works with opposing counsel and the judge and make that the basis of your argument — some prosecutors, for example, are moved by logic and fairness, and some are moved by the fact that someone’s kid will be put into foster care if she goes to jail) didn’t get accepted into drug court because of his extensive, violent criminal record. He was one of my favorite clients, ever and, in another universe where things were different, I would’ve been his pal. Sure, he committed armed robbery a few times, but once I got to know him, I knew that, somewhere in there, he was a good person.
I’m telling you this not because I like talking about being a lawyer on the internet (I don’t) but so you’ll know that I’m generally pro-defendant, a strong advocate of defendants’ rights, and someone who usually likes a person I get to know despite his or her criminal history. Taking this into account, when I say I think somebody is a “bad guy,” I really mean it.
I think Willie Clark is a bad guy.
I was really, really into the Darrent Williams murder case since the moment I found out about it on New Year’s Day 2007. I wrote a little about it here, back when I was trying to be kind of profound about things. (Sometimes I still feel bad that I’m really into sports, when I recognize that sports are inherently inconsequential in the grand scheme of the universe, if there is one.) I was a little Brenda Lee Johnson and a little Penelope Garcia as I read everything on the internet about the case and actually considered putting up a big whiteboard in the house to keep track of everything (only, you know, not actually working for the cops or anything).
This is going to make me sound totally full of myself, but I’m just going to own it. I generally avoid discussing legal-related issues on the internet, because most of the time when people discuss anything related to the law on the internet, they’re doing it wrong (and/or they’re trying to be a little scary or intimidating, which is even worse). (I could write a blog post a day about how people misunderstand the First Amendment/freedom of speech and libel/slander for the next year and I wouldn’t run out of bitching on the subjects.) As someone who has studied and practiced law, I feel like I have a duty to refrain from discussing the law unless I’m really going to do it right. This generally exhausts me and I kind of hate putting it out there, because there’s always the chance people will read and not understand, and I don’t want to contribute to misunderstandings.
For practical purposes, this means that, as a general rule, I avoid discussing my opinion of any pending legal matter, ever. As my new pal Liz Phair would say, “I never said nothin’.” I never discussed the rape case against Kobe Bryant. I might’ve compromised my morals to talk shit about Michael Vick, but I claim an exemption when it comes to animal abuse cases, because the very thought of animal abuse makes me so angry I tend to let my emotions win out.
So I probably didn’t say much about Willie Clark, the guy accused of (and now found guilty of) killing Darrent Williams. That doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about Willie Clark. I know the guy as much as you can know someone you’ve never met. I suspect that I’ve read just about everything that has ever been written about Willie D. Clark on the entire internet.
I’m not going to sit here and act like an authority on the Darrent Williams murder. I’m not, and there’s a ton of information about it out there already. What I can tell you is that — and I didn’t expect this — I was completely fascinated by all the defendants and potential defendants in the case. I can tell you about, for example:
- Brian Hicks, the guy whose SUV was used during the drive-by shooting (he was in prison at the time)
- Kalonniann Clark (no relation to Willie), who was murdered right before she was supposed to testify against Hicks in an unrelated case
- Kataina Jackson-Keeling and Mario Anderson, who were jailed for refusing to testify, a move that even I agree was smart on their part
- Vernone Edwards, a gang lieutenant
- Daniel “Ponytail” Harris, the snitch
- girlfriends and grandmas
- the guy who owns Shelter, who pissed me off so much after the murder that I’ve never gone to any of his clubs again (and never will — I can hold a grudge)
- the lawyers
- the Tre Tre Crips (so named because they were formed spitting distance from my house — awesome!) and the Elite Eight, which, in this situation, has nothing to do with March Madness.
I almost made a chart to keep all the players straight, but I’m not that dedicated.
Anyway, I put together a bunch of links to the indictment and articles I read back in the day, in case anybody else ever wants to read about this stuff. It’s better to read the articles than to read somebody writing about the articles, if you really want the story (or if you, like me, are a internet detective).
Indictment of Willie Clark
City, team, kin reel from brutal killing
No further arrests in player case
Theories on killing abound
3 alleged gang members eyed
Searching for killer, motive
Witnesses shirking under fear
Grandma prays for 23-year-old in custody
Lawyer: Clark denies connection with Williams shooting
Police: 3 key to Williams probe
“Elite” gang, brutal goals: Clark was told not to talk to cops, investigator says
From jail, gang leader in control
Williams’ pals say they ID’d 3 after shooting
Gang figure may talk
Clark’s rap sheet full of small-time street crimes
Report: Letter describes shooting of Broncos’ Williams
Witness claims threat in Darrent Williams case
Record: Alleged witnesses in Williams slaying feared for lives
Broncos cautious about jailed suspects
Feds: Figures in Bronco slaying tied to 11 deaths
Girlfriend: Gang leader had hit witness
What’s next for participants in the trial of Willie D. Clark