by Antoinnette Borbon
On Friday of last week, Leslie Pinkston’s boyfriend began the first part of a lengthy testimony.
Keilae Johnson returned this week to finish up his cross-examination by the defense attorney in the case against William Gardner.
William Gardner III is alleged to have lain in wait for his ex-girlfriend in the back seat of her BMW SUV. Gardner and Pinkston had had a five year, on-again, off-again relationship.
On November 18, 2013, a woman who knew Gardner drove him to Winters in her van, where he got out of her van and climbed into the SUV, fatally shooting Pinkston when she returned to her vehicle.
Mr. Johnson testified that he had met Pinkston on a dating website, Plentofish. He said the two began a romantic relationship soon after meeting. Johnson said he did not know William Gardner, the defendant, but he was told about him by Pinkston.
Johnson said one night after he had been out at a club in downtown Sacramento, he started receiving texts from Gardner. He said some of the texts were naked photos of Gardner and Leslie.
Johnson stated, “I saw the photos and was shocked, didn’t know what was going on. I told him if he was her man, I would step out of the picture, I don’t do that, real men don’t do that.”
He said Gardner was angry and had asked him to beat Pinkston up, to set her up, but he tried to talk Gardner out of thinking like that, “like as an older black brother, you know, I knew he was crazy after that,” stated Johnson.
Johnson said Gardner talked about Pinkston’s daughter being worried about her, but Gardner was more focused on getting back at Leslie. Johnson stated, “I respect him for caring about the child, I do, but he was more focused on Leslie.”
“After our conversation, I phoned my brother to tell him about Gardner and his threats,” stated Johnson.
He said he and Leslie had been dating a couple months and doing things a boyfriend and girlfriend do.
He confronted Leslie about the photos of her and Gardner. “I told her to come up, tell me what’s going on, she did and we spent the night together. She left my house on Sunday morning and the last text I got from her was on Monday at around 7 a.m., November 18,” Johnson asserted.
Johnson said he had texted Pinkston several times after that and found it unusual that she did not respond. He found out later that she had been fatally shot.
Defense Attorney J. Toney asked Johnson about his past. Johnson explained that, in 1989, he was charged with raping a minor but it was consensual sex with a minor, and the two were fifteen. He explained to the defense that the girl’s mother had forced her to lie, but subsequently the charges were reduced.
During cross-examination by the defense, Johnson became agitated and often turned the questions back onto the defense attorney. Judge Stephen Mock interjected quickly, instructing Johnson only to answer the questions asked.
DETECTIVE TAKES STAND
Detective Greg Elliott took the stand as an audiotape played the recorded interview with Dario Dinkins, Gardner’s friend who testified earlier.
In the taped recording, Dinkins described going to the mall the day before Pinkston’s shooting. Dinkins talked about how he never really spoke with Gardner about personal things and had only known him through another friend, “Shakqel.”
U.S. Marshals had detained Dinkins after finding him at the home of Shakqel Alima.
Dinkins told Elliott that he saw Gardner at Alima’s house with a white female, who was just “chillin’ on the couch” on the night of November 18.
Dinkins had arrived at Alima’s house in the evening. He told officers that he heard a conversation about the gun. “Gardner was asking Shakqel how to re-cock it, I think,” he stated.
Dinkins said he couldn’t hear the whole conversation because Alima and Gardner were facing each other and that was when it was re-cocked, he thought.
He told officers that he hung out at Alima’s house often.
Dinkins told Elliott that, on the November evening of the shooting, he did not know what Gardner had allegedly done until he saw it on the news. Dinkins said Alima called him saying, “He killed her bro, he killed her, he killed that woman.”
Dinkins said the woman with Gardner did not appear to be nervous or scared, just quiet, “chill,” he stated.
Dinkins said that, after a short time, Gardner and the white female left in a van. But, within a few minutes, the white female came back to the house and stayed until Alima’s wife came home.
Dinkins said Briana Page gave the woman “a look” and then the woman left. He said he never saw her again.
Elliott testified that he served a search warrant on Shakqel Alima’s house, looking for evidence.
TEXTS AND JAIL PHONE CALL
Detective Elliott described the process in which he collected several texts from a few different phone numbers that Gardner had used during interactions with Pinkston.
He said some of the cell phone companies keep texts longer and, even if deleted, texts and/or calls can be recovered. Elliot testified to finding several hundred texts and calls from Gardner to Pinkston.
Most of the texts were derogatory and threatening. Gardner talked about how hurt he was and how he didn’t want to live without her. But in some of the other texts, he used profanity, calling her names and threatening to kill her.
He read a lot of the texts between the couple.
In a recorded jail phone call, Gardner and Pinkston talked about getting the bail money together to get him out. Gardner told Pinkston that he needed to get out of jail to take care of his other cases. The two talked about the price of his bail and getting the money together.
At first the conversation was amicable, until they began talking about another case of Gardner’s that was set for trial in December. Gardner accused Pinkston of lying in her testimony to the prosecution. Pinkston became agitated on the phone.
She told Gardner he needed to take care of his business. Pinkston asked him repeatedly who had his car and had called to schedule a visit. Gardner grew angry, “Nobody has my f—car, I told you that, and how am I supposed to take care of my business in here, I got to get up outta here man.”
The conversation between Pinkston and Gardner became more aggressive as they continued to talk.
Gardner repeated to Pinkston, “You know you have mixed emotions from f—all those people you’ve been doing this to me for the last ten months.”
Pinkston stated, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. That has nothing to do with this, this is your fault, you didn’t take care of your s—.” Laughing, she said, “You’re retarded, you’re an idiot right now.”
Pinkston accused Gardner of having a girlfriend keep his car while he was locked up. Gardner denied the accusation.
Accusations went back and forth between the two, exchanging profanity and derogatory statements with one another.
Gardner said, “Listen, listen…do you love me, I need to get up outta here before I lose everything, I don’t have anyone’s else’s number, only yours, I can’t call anyone else, man…”
“I do love you, I do, I love you a lot, but this is your fault, you should have taken care of this, you’re a j—–,” answered Pinkston.
“I don’t care anymore…you can be with those other guys, I don’t care, I got nothing,” Gardner told Pinkston.
The conversation ended after about thirty minutes. It was recorded that Gardner had tried to phone Leslie Pinkston about a thousand times during his 24 days in the Yolo County Jail, but he only got through to Pinkston once.
Attorney J. Toney began his case with the Chief Investigator for the Public Defender’s office.
Aaron Bohrer took the stand to answer a few questions about his conversations with Pinkston during Gardner’s incarceration for the vandalism/stalking charges.
He said he spoke with Pinkston about the incident with Gardner. “She told me he was working on things,” stated Bohrer.
“And did you ask her what she wanted to happen to Gardner?” inquired Toney.
“Yes, she never said it didn’t happen, she just said she wanted it to go away,” stated Bohrer.
Pinkston told Bohrer that she did not lie to the police the night they came to her house after Gardner broke the windows.
Toney asked, “Did you ask Leslie if she was pregnant?” Aaron replied after a few seconds, “Yes, I did.”
“And what did she tell you?” asked Toney. “She thanked me for asking, and then said no, she was not.”
Testimony continues in the morning.