Michael Clark
Michael Clark (Mark Leffingwell / Camera file photo)

After 18 years, the case of Boulder city official Marty Grisham's homicide finally came to a close Monday as a jury found Michael Clark guilty of first-degree murder for shooting Grisham in his apartment doorway in 1994.

The Boulder jury, after listening to seven days of testimony and deliberating for more than two days, returned the guilty verdict Monday.

Clark, 36, broke down and wept as Boulder District Judge Thomas Mulvahill read the verdict. Clark then turned around and hugged his wife before hanging his head.

Mulvahill sentenced Clark to life in prison -- the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder -- and he was remanded into custody shortly after the verdict was read.

The verdict put to rest a case almost two decades old. Grisham, who was 48 at the time of the shooting Nov. 1, 1994, was shot four times in the head and chest in the doorway of his apartment after answering a knock at the door during dinner with his girlfriend.

Nobody saw the shooter, and police never found the murder weapon, but investigators were able to gather enough circumstantial evidence and witness testimony to get a conviction.

"I'm deeply satisfied that the collaboration between the Boulder Police Department, the District Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ATF and CBI paid off with a verdict that was just and obviously the work of a very hard-working jury," said Assistant District Attorney Ryan Brackley.

Boulder police said Clark -- who, at the time of the shooting, was friends with Grisham's daughter, Kristen -- had forged checks he stole from Grisham's apartment. Kristen had asked Clark to watch the apartment about a month before the shooting.

Prosecutors said Clark was worried his dream of joining the Marine Corps would be jeopardized if Grisham caught on to the check fraud. Clark already had a previous arrest for stealing a motorcycle.

While Clark was a suspect from the beginning of the investigation, he was only charged in January of this year after prosecutors found evidence they said linked Clark to the sale of a 9mm gun similar to the one used to shoot Grisham.

While Clark's attorneys tried to convince the jury there was no hard evidence to prove Clark was the shooter, prosecutors argued the evidence showed Clark was the one person with the means and the motive to kill Grisham.

"The case was made up of a number of very, very strong circumstances which established Michael Clark as guilty and really pointed at no one other than Michael Clark," Brackley said. "In a circumstantial case, it's not one major factor but a number of circumstances which together lead to a conclusion of guilty."

The prosecution also had testimony from an inmate who was housed with Clark in Boulder County Jail after his check fraud arrest and said Clark admitted to the shooting. Several witnesses testified they saw Clark with a gun before the shooting.

Grisham's ex-wife, Pam, and daughter, Kristen -- who for some time was also a person of interest in the case -- were in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

"Kristen was grateful that Boulder police, and especially (lead detective) Chuck Heidel, stuck with this for 18 years," Brackley said. "No case is truly a cold case anymore, and we are working on these cases here in Boulder County."

District Attorney Stan Garnett said the Grisham shooting is the seventh cold-case murder to be solved since he took office. He said cold cases continue to be a priority for his office even though they aren't easy.

"It takes an enormous amount of commitment and an excellent trial team, and I'm proud of what the staff did," Garnett said. "It's justice for Marty Grisham, and the community now has resolution."

Clark's attorneys declined to comment on the case.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.