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Jury convicts Williams of ability-impaired driving

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By IVAN MORENO, Associated Press

DENVER (AP) — Jurors convicted Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams on Wednesday of driving while ability-impaired and driving without headlights.

Williams was charged with driving under the influence and traffic charges but the jury returned the lesser verdicts after a trial that lasted less than a day.

Williams already is facing a six-game suspension for failing an offseason drug test.

Williams left court with his attorney without commenting. He wasn't immediately sentenced.

Williams was arrested about 3 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2010, after police stopped him for driving without headlights, cited him for DUI and took him to a detox facility.

During the trial in Denver District Court, Williams' attorney Harvey Steinberg questioned how the Denver police officers handled the traffic stop and criticized them for not taking into account whether concussions or other head injuries could affect sobriety tests given to Williams.

Steinberg peppered the officers during questioning about how much they remembered from the night of the traffic stop and called their testimony a "moving bullet."

He said one officer said after Williams had been taken into custody that he didn't notice slurred speech and that Williams appeared to be walking fine, contrary to what the arresting officer noted during sobriety tests.

"That's the evidence that creates the doubt," Steinberg told jurors during closing arguments.

Denver prosecutor Brian Dunn argued that Williams knew he was drunk and pointed to his refusal to take a blood test as evidence.

"I mean if you're wrongly charged, isn't that the easiest way to take care of things?" the prosecutor said.

Dunn told jurors that Williams failed the roadside sobriety test, despite the athleticism he shows on the field.

"This is somebody who can absolutely wreck a quarterback, wreck a running back, but he can't walk a straight line," he said.

The Broncos stripped the linebacker of his team captain title shortly after his arrest. Then last spring, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for six games over a failed offseason drug test.

It was not immediately clear how Wednesday's outcome might further affect Williams' ability to play.

Williams sued to have that suspension overturned, but a judge dismissed his lawsuit.

Because of his pending suspension, Williams hasn't practiced with the starters at training camp, so the team can prepare his replacement, which appears to be Wesley Woodyard.

Williams didn't do any contact work at camp until Monday when he worked with the second stringers after free agent linebacker Keith Brooking left practice with a pulled hamstring.

His trial was delayed several times, including after he suffered a dislocated right elbow last fall during a game. The case was supposed to be resolved in May, but a judge declared a mistrial after Williams' attorney objected to how the jury was selected.

Steinberg asked for a mistrial again on Wednesday, this time arguing that the testimony of one officer was prejudicial to Williams. At issue was the officer's answer, in response to a prosecutor's question, that sober people are not admitted into detox facilities.

Williams was expected to return to Broncos practice Thursday while the NFL reviews the outcome of the trial.

 

AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.

 

©2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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