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Murder conviction for Denise Williams reversed by appeals court, conspiracy charge affirmed

Williams will stay in prison for 30 years on conspiracy charge
Posted at 3:07 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 18:05:20-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Denise Williams, who was convicted in the murder of her husband Mike, has had her first-degree murder charge and its accompanying life sentence reversed after filing an appeal.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee came down with the decision to reverse the murder charge on Wednesday.

Denise Williams was convicted in 2018 of orchestrating the murder of her husband Mike. She was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019.

While the murder conviction will be reversed, the charge for conspiracy to commit murder will remain as will its 30-year sentence.

The panel of three judges ruled that the state failed to prove that Denise helped Mike's murderer, Mike's best friend Brian Winchester, commit the crime.

"Because Denise did not do or say anything to 'aid' or 'abet' Brian in the murder of Mike, as those terms originally were understood to mean; and she did not 'counsel,' 'hire,' or 'procure' Mike’s murder beforehand (i.e., she did not get the ball rolling); we reverse her conviction as a principal to first-degree murder," judges wrote.

Lawyers for Denise also argued in the appeal that the court should have granted her requests for acquittal on the murder and conspiracy charges against her. However, the appeals court agreed that the court was right to deny her motion for acquittal.

"Denise next contends the evidence cannot sustain her conviction for conspiracy to commit murder," judges wrote in the filing. "Because the evidence shows that Denise and Brian had an agreement to kill Mike and that Denise intended for Brian to kill Mike, we disagree."

Mike Williams disappeared after a hunting trip in 2000. His body was found 17-years after his disappearance.

Denise Williams later remarried Mike's best friend Brian Winchester. He confessed to the murder in exchange for immunity.