DNA samples, SUV evidence to be compared

Swab taken from man for Darrent Williams inquiry

By Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News
February 6, 2007

Denver police have swabbed the mouth of an inmate who was taken into custody days after the killing of Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams.

The DNA sample was obtained Wednesday at the Denver County Jail, according to Michael Andre, the lawyer representing the inmate, Willie D. Clark.

The sample is expected to be compared with evidence found inside a Chevrolet Tahoe that investigators have linked to the New Year’s Day drive-by shooting of the popular Broncos player.

Clark, 23, has been behind bars since Jan. 5 when he was picked up on an alleged parole violation. He was convicted of that offense Friday and was sentenced to 180 days in prison, with credit for 29 days already served.

An alleged gang member, Clark is one of at least three individuals police have targeted in the Williams homicide. Investigators previously characterized Clark as “a person of interest.”

The DNA sample is one of two police are analyzing.

According to CBS 4 News’ Brian Maass, police obtained a separate warrant to take physical samples, usually hair or saliva, from a man who is not in custody.

That man was trying to reach a deal with the government, promising to testify against other participants if he could avoid criminal prosecution. Police obtained the warrant, Maass reported, after those negotiations broke down.

The Rocky Mountain News is withholding this suspect’s name because police have not publicly linked him to the investigation and there are concerns about jeopardizing his safety and the ongoing case.

It is unclear how valuable a DNA match would be.

Even if the tests link either man to the Tahoe, it could be difficult to determine when the physical evidence was left there. Defense attorneys are likely to argue that their clients rode in the SUV sometime before or after Williams was shot.

Nonetheless, the development shows that police are still actively working the unsolved case – a fact that reassures anti-gang activist Rev. Leon Kelly.

Kelly, executive director of Denver’s Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, said Monday that he believes Williams’ death and at least four others may be linked eventually to members of the Tre Tre Crips or another group, the Tre Four Crips.

Both Clark and the owner of the Tahoe, who was in jail when Williams was killed, have been identified as alleged Tre Tre Crips members.

“No group that I’ve dealt with lately has been this aggressive, with these types of assaults and murders,” Kelly said. “And the attitude that a lot of them are taking right now is, ‘If anybody messes with our money, we gotta do what we gotta do.’ ”

Kelly estimated there are about 2,000 Tre Tre Crips and Tre Four Crips in the metro area. Roughly 500 could be characterized as hard-core associates, he said.

Gang members “know that they’ve been shooting and killing people, and the cases are still open. They feel they can do it, and nobody’s going to speak on it,” said Kelly.

Denver police spokeswoman Detective Virginia Quinones declined Monday to respond to Kelly’s comments or detail the status of the investigation.

The high-profile Williams investigation, Kelly said, is leading police to focus on several other unsolved slayings.

Kelly named the Dec. 6 Denver slayings of Kalonniann Louisa Clark-James and that of Derrek Davonte Ward, a teen who was killed Dec. 2 in Aurora, as those that could be tied to the two specific gangs.

Any consideration of immunity for a potential witness or accessory in the Williams shooting, said Kelly, will be complicated by concerns about protecting not just that person, but also their immediate family.

“I’ll say this about these Tre Tres,” Kelly warned. “They’re all over the place. And, with execution-style killing, chasing kids and folks down and shooting them up . . . it’s not Hollywood we’re seeing that causes me to be concerned. This is here.”

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