A Florida woman and her lover nearly figured out how to get away with murder: blame an alligator.
Denise Williams, 48, was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday, about two decades after she and her lover carried out an almost-perfect plot to kill her husband, convince cops an alligator did it and then collect $2 million in life insurance benefits.
Williams was convicted in December of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her 31-year-old husband, Mike Williams. The judge also sentenced Williams to an additional 30 years in prison for plotting to kill her husband with Brian Winchester, who was Mike’s best friend and her lover.
Mike Williams’ mother, Cheryl Williams, delivered an impact statement Wednesday in which she recounted a 17-year search to find out what really happened to her son in 2000, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
"I am asking you to lock Denise Merrell Williams Winchester up for the rest of her life with no chance of parole," Williams said to the judge. "She has already lived 18 years longer than my son."
During the weeklong trial in December, Winchester testified he and Denise Williams plotted to kill Mike Williams so they could collect $1.75 million in life insurance benefits and be together.
Mike Williams was on a hunting trip on Lake Seminole with Winchester when he vanished. Winchester later admitted to shooting his friend in the face and burying his body near a lake.
But, at the time, investigators initially believed the 31-year-old was eaten by alligators in the area.
Denise Williams and Winchester hid their secret, collected the insurance money and married in 2005.
But Williams filed for divorce in 2015 and the duo's 15-year-old lie began to fall apart.
Winchester was arrested for kidnapping Williams at gunpoint, allegedly to convince her not to turn him in to police. But Winchester eventually confessed anyway to the 2000 murder, leading authorities to his former friend's body in 2017.
Attorneys for Denise Williams denied she was part of the plot to kill Mike Williams and maintained Winchester lied to get revenge.
Fox News' Robert Gearty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.