Ending the first week of trial in the case against William Gardner III, jurors listened to a videotaped conversation between Derek Shore, a news reporter for CBS channel 13, and the defendant.
Derek Shore sat on the witness stand as the prosecution played the videotape, which included the audio of the call between Gardner and the reporter. The conversation took place as Gardner was holed up in an apartment in Las Vegas, with police surrounding the residence.
Gardner fled to Las Vegas after allegedly shooting his ex-girlfriend in front of her workplace in the early morning on November 18, 2013.
During the conversation, Gardner explained to Shore, “You don’t know the full story, I’m going to tell you the full story, but it won’t be the full story.”
Shore asked Gardner to explain what he meant: “Tell me what happened, this is judgment day, I’m giving you a chance to tell what happened.”
Gardner described to Shore the five-year relationship with victim Leslie Pinkston. He said she owed him $10,000 and he wanted his money back but that was not what caused him to shoot her. He kept asserting, “You don’t know, you don’t know, there’s more to it.”
Shore repeated his question to Gardner, giving him the chance to elaborate on what he was talking about. But the conversation was interrupted several times by the woman and her child who were in the apartment where Gardner was hiding.
Gardner told Shore he was not holding them against their will or at gunpoint.
He put the woman on the phone who explained to Shore that she was trying to calm Gardner so that no one got hurt.
Gardner sounded confused and distressed as he told the news reporter that he had had a bad childhood, but that he remained strong. He said he had taken good care of Leslie’s daughter and referred to her as “the baby” several times.
He repeatedly told Shore he could hear through the walls the cops coming. At one point, he and the couple with their toddler went into the bathroom to hide. Gardner was whispering because he thought police could hear him.
Gardner stated, “I’ve head people saying, they should hang the ‘n—–!’ I know people are talking but they don’t know…they don’t know…”
Shore expressed his concern for the safety of the child and the couple but Gardner asserted they were safe.
AUDIO-TAPED CONVERSATION DETAIL
GARDNER: My side of things is that…um…I’ve been with her for over five and a half years. She came and visited me in the jail, you see, she did all this to prove something to me. It’s in phone recordings at Yolo county jail…she did put money towards my bail but I wouldn’t say she wanted me out.
SHORE: Was this a domestic dispute? It sounds like it was a tumultuous relationship..I know you were upset.
GARDNER: No, it wasn’t a domestic dispute when I got locked up in Yolo..I actually seen her in January after that, we had lunch at her work from 10:45 to 11:15. She was cool one day and then…like…f— you the next..
Gardner stated he never imagined being on T.V. He said, “I remember being beat up as a kid…a lot of things happened growing up. I was in a lot of bad situations. I regret that…listen, there is a whole lot more to this story.
He explained to Shore that he did not involve the family when the shooting happened. He stated, “My family has nothing to do with nothing.”
SHORE: William, can you let them out [talking about the three people in apartment]? You don’t want a baby hurt, right? I am getting scared…William…why are you whispering…are you safe..are you holding them at gunpoint?
GARDNER: Listen…listen…they’re fine…I’m going to come out..the baby is sleeping.
Shore pleaded with Gardner to make the couple leave the apartment with the baby. He stated, “Police are getting freaked out the longer they stay there, William, and it’s going to look like an accomplice…you don’t want the blood of a child on your hands..it sounds like you care enough about the kid…man, kid’s got to go, William…today is judgment day..I think you have to cut your losses, tell me your story…we can talk in county jail.”
GARDNER: So this is a pretty big story to you, huh?
SHORE: Yea, but I’m not worried about that…I’m worried about Britney, the baby…you got to not be selfish, you gotta let them go..
GARDNER: Yeah…I totally understand….I get that.
A police negotiator had also been summoned to speak with Gardner during a three-way conversation as the news reporter listened. A woman from the Las Vegas Police Department spoke with Gardner via the phone arrangement. She asked him if he was okay and pled with him to release the other people with him.
Gardner told Shore, “Even if I tell you the full story, the full story is never going to come out…”
Gardner insisted on keeping Shore on the line. The audio ended.
FRIENDS OF GARDNER’S TESTIFY
A woman whose husband had been a friend of Gardner’s took the stand to talk about how she had come to know Gardner. Briane Page testified that Gardner was a friend of her husband’s but she did not know the defendant well.
She stated that she had only seen him about ten times. She said he had visited one day but could not recall what day it was. “I noticed Gardner was asleep on my couch as I came downstairs to leave for work.”
She said her husband and Gardner visited the night before the shooting and he ended up staying the night. But she did not hear their conversations or notice any odd behavior by Gardner.
On the day of the shooting, she recalled, “I came home about 5 or 6, I don’t remember if Gardner was there, a white female was standing near my home, never spoke with her, though.”
District Attorney Jeff Reisig asked, “You don’t remember if Gardner was there? He never came back? And did your husband ask you for the garage door opener?”
“Yes, he did…but no, Gardner never came back,” answered Ms. Page.
Reisig asked her if she knew her husband did not want to testify. Ms. Page said that she did not know where he was but he knew she had been subpoenaed to testify.
“Is he evading testifying?” DA Reisig inquired. “I don’t know,” she replied.
Another friend of Gardner’s, Dario Dinkins, testified to driving up to the house of his friend, Shakqel, on the day of the shooting. He said he was surrounded by several police officers at gunpoint.
Dinkins stated, “I put my hands up…said I got nothing.” Afterward, several police took statements from him. He said he told officers that Gardner was a friend but he knew nothing about the shooting.
DA Reisig asked him about the day of the shooting: “Did you tell this officer sitting behind me that a white female came back to the house with Gardner?”
“I don’t recall saying that…” replied Dinkins. “Did you ever see Gardner with a gun? And did you tell officers that he was asking how to re-cock a gun?” asked Reisig.
“No, I never told them that. I never said anything about an exchange about a gun, ” Dinkins stated.
“Do you recall telling this officer, Detective Elliot, he used your phone, that you said when you heard about the shooting, f—, he used my phone?” Reisig asked.
“Yes, I remember telling that,” asserted Dinkins.
During cross by Defense Attorney J. Toney, he asked, “Were you nervous that day when the police started questioning you? And describe for me what you saw when you pulled up to the house?”
“I saw about 15 cops, three sheriffs pulled out their guns on me. I told them, “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! I got nothing,” Dinkins said.
He said he was questioned for about an hour and a half by different police officers.
Dinkins told DA Reisig he could not recall much of his statements given to police on that day and that reading over them would not refresh his memory.
WINTERS OFFICER TESTIFIES TO PRIOR ARREST
Officer Gordon Brown testified to arresting William Gardner just days before Pinkston’s shooting. He said he was summoned to Pinkston’s house about a man breaking a window.
When he arrived, he spoke with Leslie Pinkston, who appeared scared that her ex-boyfriend was going to kill her. Leslie told him that she had been packing to leave. She showed the broken window to Brown that she said Gardner had broken that night.
Pinkston told Brown that Gardner thought she was cheating on him. She said he had been leaving her threatening texts. She was scared and had been hiding in the bathroom with her daughter.
Brown stated that Leslie wanted a restraining order against Gardner, so he got one for her. Leslie had shown the officer several text messages from Gardner. Jurors read them from the screen in courtroom.
Gardner repeatedly told her, “I am going to kill your b—-ass…you sneaky ho’…” Pinkston told Brown the texts had been constant for 48 hours before he broke her window.
Brown said he found Gardner that night and took him into custody.
It was just days later that Gardner was released and Pinkston was shot.
The testimony continues on Monday.