Pre-trial hearing for Denise Williams starts Tuesday

Bond denied for widow accused in missing husband's murder
Posted at 6:45 AM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 01:51:45-05


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Pre-trial hearings for the Tallahassee woman accused of conspiring to kill her husband start Tuesday.

Denise Williams is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her estranged husband, Mike Williams.

He was first reported missing back in 2000 after a hunting trip on Lake Seminole in Jackson County.

His remains were found last December, 17 years after his disappearance.

Her final pre-trial is set for December 6, and her trial is set to begin on December 10.

New trial date set for widow charged in Mike Williams' death

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A new trial date has been set for Denise Williams.

Williams, the woman accused in the murder of her husband Mike Williams, wasn’t in court Tuesday for the hearing.

Williams is accused of conspiring with a friend, Brian Winchester, to kill her husband, Mike Williams. Mike Williams was first reported missing back in 2000, but it wasn't until last year that his body was recovered.

A pre-trial hearing will start on Nov. 20 at 10:30 a.m. A final pre-trial hearing will be held on December 6th at 1:30 p.m.

Denise Williams' trial will start on Dec. 10.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The trial date is delayed for Denise Williams, the Tallahassee woman charged with first degree murder for the death of her husband. 

Williams appeared in court Wednesday morning for her first pre-trial hearing.

Williams is accused of conspiring with a friend, Brian Winchester, to kill her husband, Mike Williams. 

Mike Williams was first reported missing back in 2000, but it wasn't until last year that his body was recovered.

During Wednesday's hearing, Williams' attorney asked the judge to push back the next hearing until Oct. 2. That's when both sides will meet to set a new trial date.

The judge agreed and said that Williams would not need to attend the Oct. 2 hearing. 

"We've just had, with the summer and other things, we've had some logistical issues just getting people to pose and getting witnesses served, things like that," said Ethan Way, Denise Williams' Attorney. "We just needed a little bit more time, but it's not going to be very long." 

Despite this delay, Way is still confident that Williams' trial will begin before the end of 2018. 

A case management hearing is set for Oct. 2. Trial was previously scheduled to start Sept. 24.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The widow of Mike Williams, Denise Williams, has been charged with insurance fraud related to his death.

She was already behind bars, charged with first-degree murder for his death, because a judge had denied her bail. Her trial is set to begin in September. 

After her arrest Thursday, she now faces three counts of insurance fraud for $100,000 or more. 

In May 2018, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis asked that Denise Williams be investigated for insurance fraud.

Mike's best friend, Brian Winchester, who eventually married Denise, and who said he shot Williams, said in a court hearing in June that Denise wanted to collect Mike's $1.75 million in life insurance.

Winchester, a licensed insurance agent in Florida, was the agent for a $250,000 policy Mike Williams bought from Kansas City Life Insurance Company that went into effect on Feb. 2, 1995.

Denise Williams "independently provided written statements to the life insurance companies which were determined to be false throughout the claims processes ultimately resulting in death benefit payments of over 1.75 million dollars," according to a probable cause affidavit.

Denise Williams defrauded Cotton States Insurance Company and Kansas City Life Insurance Company on three separate insurance claims, the court document said.

On May 8, 2018, she was booked for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory after the fact/first-degree murder.  

She is set to stand trial for the murder charges next month.

In a statement on Friday, Patronis said: 

 “The Williams case is a tragedy that has shocked the Tallahassee community and reverberated across the nation. The insurance fraud charges are just one part of this case, and I assure the community we will work diligently toward a successful prosecution. Insurance fraud is a very serious crime, one that impacts every single insurance consumer. It’s especially disturbing when an individual is attempting to profit off someone’s death. I am proud of our dedicated insurance fraud team for their commitment to bringing criminals to justice.” 

Insurance investigation opened after Denise Williams' arrest

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - An insurance fraud investigation related to the murder of Mike Williams has been ordered following his widow's arrest.

Denise Merrell Williams was arrested Tuesday following an indictment for Mike's murder.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced Wednesday that he has directed his Division of Investigative and Forensic Services to investigate alleged life insurance fraud relating to Mike Williams’ disappearance nearly two decades ago.

Patronis issued this statement regarding the decision:

“As a result of the recent findings surrounding Mike Williams’ death, I have directed my office to investigate whether or not his death was part of a scheme to fraudulently profit from his life insurance policies. As this case remains ongoing, we ask members of the community to come forward with any information they may have surrounding this case.”

Members of the community who believe they have information surrounding potential life insurance fraud as it relates to this case are encouraged to contact the CFO’s Fraud Tip Hotline by calling 1-800-378-0445.

Callers can choose to remain anonymous and those who provide information that leads to a successful prosecution may be eligible for a cash reward.