The reason Marshall changed his story about the champagne might be the same reason he changed his story about who rode with him to the club that night: He was protecting someone. In his first interview with the police Marshall said three other people rode in his limousine. It was actually five. And one of the people he left out was his cousin Blair Clark, a man who played a pivotal role in the events that led to the shooting.
On the witness stand Marshall admitted that his cousin was at the club that night. But he maintained that Blair Clark was elsewhere in the club during the controversy with the locals. And even this story didn't quite match the story his cousin told the police. Asked where he was when the clock struck midnight, Blair Clark said, "I was upstairs. But no champagne got sprayed when I was up there."
The more you think about this claim, the less sense it makes. Even Marshall—in one of his stories—admitted that champagne was sprayed. And if champagne was sprayed at any time on New Year's Eve, it would have been at midnight. Which is exactly what the men from Fort Worth said. Champagne went everywhere at midnight. It splashed around. It spilled all over the floor.
All five friends from Texas named Blair Clark as the sprayer-in-chief. Another Bronco blamed one of the men from Texas. In one of his stories Marshall said it was Williams, and he even hinted that he'd done some spraying himself: Man, pop the bottles... . Lemme show you how to do it.
One thing is certain, though. Javon Walker had nothing to do with it. He was in his own limousine full of women at midnight, still on his way to the club. In fact, it might have been better if Walker had been there. He had more money and experience than everyone else there, and he knew the right way to spray champagne: You notify management ahead of time. You get security to create a perimeter. You make sure all men are out of the blast radius. Only then do you pop the cork.
It's not clear how the two Denver Crips got into the VIP section—perhaps Marshall's endorsement helped—but Little Willie and his friend did get in. By several accounts, they were sprayed with champagne. And they were furious. Willie fancied himself as a big-spending rapper: Lyrics found in his jail cell included the phrase, we pop bottlez n clubz cuz ya kno who it iz. And now these strangers had rolled in on one of the biggest party nights of the year and stolen the spotlight. Football players are less recognizable in public than other pro athletes because they usually wear helmets on television, so Little Willie may not have recognized Williams. All he knew was that Williams and his friends weren't from Denver, the city he loved so intensely that he had its area code, 303, tattooed on his chest. Willie loved the Broncos too, but Williams didn't wear Broncos clothing. He'd come out that night to represent Texas, with a white Texas Rangers hat and a tattoo that read CARTER PARK.
No wonder the Crips felt the need to announce themselves. Little Willie's friend started yelling things like "Eastside!" and "Denver!" and "Tre Tre!" referring to their point of origin, 33rd Avenue.
In the version of the story told at trial by one member of the Texas crew, Little Willie approaches Darrent Williams to ask him who sprayed the champagne. In this telling, of course, the sprayer is Marshall's cousin. "He's good," Williams says. "He's with us."
"Who are you?" Little Willie says.
"I'm Darrent Williams," he says, "27 for the Broncos." And Little Willie shakes his hand.