Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Curtis Clark Convicted Of Double Murder

DNA Evidence Catches Murderer In Lie

CLEWISTON, FL. -- In September, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Matt Walsh received some good news from six members of a jury in Hendry County - "guilty."

(photo: Florida Dept. of Corrections)

The jury handed down the verdict against Curtis Leonard Clark, 24, convicting him on two counts of second-degree murder with a firearm and one count use of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

The verdict comes almost two years and five months to the day that the bodies of Melvin Williams, 39, and Marvin Dixon, 38, were found shot outside a neighborhood market in area known as Harlem just on the westside of Clewiston, Fl.

According to reports and witness statements, Curtis Clark was trying to collect on a drug deal with Melvin Williams and Marvin Dixon on the evening of April 24, 2003 when Clark shot both men multiple times killing Williams and Dixon. The Hendry County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene and collected evidence and took statements from witnesses in the investigation.

But a year passed and the investigation stalled. Hendry County detectives needed help.

In March 2004, Hendry County Sheriff Steve Worley contacted the FDLE Sebring Field Office and requested assistance in the investigation. Special Agent Matt Walsh was assigned as case agent. SA Walsh immediately began to gather information from Hendry County investigators and witnesses. Because of the amount of time that had passed since the crime he new it would be difficult finding reliable witnesses and evidence. But SA Walsh dove in and put his experience to work.

SA Walsh began to re-construct the crime and as a result was able to discover possible DNA evidence that had not been submitted to the crime lab. The DNA evidence, taken from beneath Marvin Dixon's fingernails, was tested at the Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center. Crime Lab Analyst Amy Rockhold found the sample and ran it through the CODIS database. The database identified a subject and after a comparison it was confirmed to be Curtis Clark's DNA. 

A crucial piece of evidence since Clark had told SA Walsh he had never met Williams or Dixon. CLA Justin Greenwell, also of TBROC, performed test on the bullets found at the crime scene and determined that
they were all fired from the same gun, another key piece of evidence. Just a little more than two months after being contacted about the case, SA Walsh working with Hendry County detectives and the State Attorney's Office had enough evidence and witness statements to make the arrest. But his work wasn't over.

While preparing for trial, two important witnesses in the case recanted their statements they made identifying Clark as the gunman. SA Walsh felt the witnesses had been intimidated into changing their stories. He had to
work fast to find corroborating witnesses. SA Walsh using information he received and good old fashion police work was able to find two additional witnesses that had information that put Clark at the scene and committing the murders.

That information and evidence went before the Jury and it took them a little more than an hour to return their verdict. Clark faces an October 17 sentencing date and it is expected he will receive a life sentence.

Update: As of April 2013 Curtis Clark was serving a life sentence at the Okeechobee, Florida Correctional Institution were he arrived in November, 2005.