A Florida man got so emotional he doubled over in tears while describing on the stand how he killed his best friend during a duck-hunting trip 18 years ago so he could continue a relationship with the man's wife.
Brian Winchester took the stand Tuesday in the trial of Denise Williams, who is accused of helping plot the death of her husband, Mike Williams, testifying that she had decided it was "better to be a rich widow than a poor divorcée," according to the New York Post.
Denise Williams would later collect a $1.75 million life insurance policy after investigators initially concluded Mike, 31, had been eaten by alligators after falling from a boat in Dec. of 2000.
With the path clear to bring their relationship out of the shadows, Winchester and Denise got married in 2005 before later divorcing.
The trio had been friends since high school when they all attended North Christian Florida School together, along with Winchester's first wife, Kathy.
After Denise and Mike got married and had a daughter together, the two couples continued to be friends, often socializing together on double dates.
But Winchester testified Tuesday that he began to have feelings for his best friend's wife after the discussion one night turned to sex. He'd make his move one night in 1997 when he kissed Denise while their spouses were parking the car, Winchester said, according to The Post.
"We just connected like nobody else," he said. "It snowballed really fast."
According to Winchester, the lovers would have sex up to 15 times a week, often in public places.
“We were very good at hiding things. Denise is a smart person,” Winchester said in his testimony, according to WCTV.
After carrying on a three-year affair, the couple was determined to be together, but Winchester claims that Denise didn't want to get a divorce "because of her pride" and how she had been raised. She decided it would be better to be a rich widow, he said.
According to him, he and Denise discussed killing Mike for months, ultimately deciding it would be best if the death appeared to be an accident.
Denise wanted it to happen before an upcoming couple's trip the friends had planned for Dec. 16, 2000, Winchester said, according to an earlier New York Post article.
The secret lovers plotted that Mike would be killed while he and Winchester out duck-hunting together, Winchester said. The initial plan had been to shove Mike overboard from their row boat, hoping the waders he was wearing would be fill with water and drag him under.
However, on the fateful morning in December, Mike was able to swim to a stump and stay afloat.
“He started to yell and I didn’t know how to get out of that situation,” Winchester testified. “I had my gun in the boat, and so I loaded my gun and I just made one or two circles around and I ended up circling closer towards him and he was in the water, and as I passed by, I shot him.”
Winchester then loaded his best friend's body into his car, drove home, climbed back into to bed with his wife and pretended he had just woken up, later burying Mike's body not far from where Mike grew up, the Post reported.
He had pushed Mike's boat back into the water where the pair had been duck-hunting to make it appear as if Mike had died that morning in an accident.
In his testimony, Winchester said he never told Denise that their alleged plot hadn't gone as planned and that he had to shoot Mike.
"I tried to tell her about it one day and she didn't want to know the details," Winchester said, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. "She said she assumed that when his body had not been found that what we planned had not happened."
Her attorney has argued that Winchester's testimony can't be trusted and say there is no evidence that shows Denise knew about her lover's scheme.
"There is no tangible evidence or physical evidence tying Denise Williams to this crime," defense attorney Philip Padovano told jurors in his opening statement, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. "The issue you're going to have to decide is whether to believe him. All you're going to have to go on is the word of the man who actually committed the murder."
The details of Winchester's acts would not be discovered for years. But, in 2016, as the marriage between the pair was crumbling, Winchester said he began to worry Denise would reveal his role in the crime and allegedly sneaked into his estranged wife's car and held her at gunpoint while asking her to promise to never reveal his evil deeds, The Post reports.
Denise would report the armed kidnapping to police, who ultimately offered Winchester immunity if he'd lead them to the body and testify against his one-time wife.
Winchester was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 2016 kidnapping of his wife, The Post reports.
If convicted of the first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and accessory after the fact charges against her, Denise could spend life behind bars.
[Photos: Leon County Sheriff's Office]
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