By Lauren Zaren
“He always keeps one in the chamber.”
On the evening of April 7, 2019, an already questionable meetup between three teens and a man in his late thirties ended in gunfire. The defendants, Leilani Elise Bonge, Andrew Louis Ferber, and Kyra Marie Harnois face multiple felony charges for their actions.
The preliminary hearing began when the prosecution called the victim to the witness stand. A 37-year-old man walked laboriously across the courtroom, relying heavily on support from his walker. He has been living in an apartment in West Sacramento for nine years with his mother and his two children.
After drinking three beers, he spent nearly two hours talking to Ms. Bonge through text and over the phone using the dating app “Skout.” He claimed he was not looking to pay for sex, but wanted to get to know the younger woman. Printed screenshots of their conversations were shown in court, including a picture he sent of approximately $400 in fanned out bills.
He conceded that at the point when they agreed to meet up, it is possible, likely even, that Ms. Bonge was intending to perform sexual acts in exchange for payment from the man. He remained resolute that this was not his intention at all. He also stated that she asked several times for gas money over text and while on the phone.
When they met at the victim’s apartment complex around 9pm, Ms. Bonge appeared to be alone and to have come on foot. They greeted each other and “one-arm” hugged. She claimed to be 18 years old and mentioned that she had her “homegirl and dude” in a car nearby.
After talking for about five minutes, she asked for gas money, in person this time, and he took out his wallet and gave her a $10 bill. She took the money and said she would be right back with her friend. The victim believed the three defendants talked for a few minutes before pulling up closer to him. They were in a white car that he described as similar to a Jeep.
A second girl came out and Ms. Bonge introduced them. The victim said he would be back after getting a fourth can of beer from his apartment. When he came back, he started looking for the girls but could not see them. He was unsure if they were in the car or if they went somewhere else. Suddenly, a boy, the car’s third occupant, came from behind the car and started shooting at him.
He shot four rounds in quick succession from a distance of 20 feet while yelling, “Give me your wallet!” The fourth shot hit the victim’s right knee and he threw his wallet on the ground while falling from the injury.
The boy approached quickly, grabbed the wallet, and ran back into the vehicle, before the three sped away. The victim claimed that the wallet had $470 in cash as well as his ID and credit cards. He was taken to the UC Davis Medical Center by ambulance and received surgery for his gunshot wound. He now uses a walker and must complete three months of physical therapy.
The victim recognized Ms. Bonge and Mr. Ferber, but only remembered that the third person was a white girl, and did not confirm that Ms. Harnois was this girl. He denied allegations that he grabbed the white girl on her arm and buttocks. He also denied that he tried to, or actually did, kiss her, or that she struggled against him at any point during their interaction.
Deputy Public Defender Dave Muller, for Mr. Ferber, cross-examined the victim, asking if he was an alcoholic, given that he had his liver replaced in the past. Muller questioned the accuracy of the three beer estimate he gave earlier. The victim upheld his previous testimony.
Attorney Jeffrey Raven, for Ms. Harnois, had the victim confirm that he had not consumed any other drugs or alcohol that night.
While being questioned by Attorney John Spangler, for Ms. Bonge, the victim claimed that his mother and two children were back in the apartment and he had no intention of bringing Ms. Bonge there or to any sort of motel.
The victim also reviewed a text message sent by Ms. Bonge which read, “How much do you wanna give me baby? $120?”, to which he replied, “Come to me.” He repeated that he never said yes to any sexual offers, but added that he never said no either.
The next witness was a detective who covered the case. He explained how the three defendants were taken into custody and that the white vehicle involved in the crimes was registered to Ms. Harnois.
In her police statement, Ms. Harnois said that she and Ms. Bonge were acquaintances and Ms. Bonge asked for a ride to West Sacramento in exchange for gas money. She confirmed that Ms. Bonge intended to meet with a man and be paid for sex.
She also alleged that the man grabbed her arm, touched her buttocks, and tried to kiss her. He appeared “super drunk” and smelled strongly of alcohol. At one point, the victim allegedly said, “Damn, let’s go back to a hotel.”
Mr. Ferber is Ms. Harnois’ boyfriend of one month, and she knew he had a gun, but did not know he had it with him on this occasion. She has shot the gun before, posed with it in a picture posted online, and explained that “he always keeps one in the chamber.”
After the shooting and robbery, they drove to a Chevron in Davis and then to a Walmart to purchase hair dye for Ms. Harnois to “conceal her look.” The purchase was made with some of the stolen money.
They originally made the trip in order for Ms. Bonge to meet up with another man, but he was deemed “creepy.” She took up this line of work in addition to her day job at Dairy Queen after her mother lost her job and they were having financial troubles. They agreed that she would get $105 of the victim’s money while Mr. Ferber got the rest for “putting his life on the line.” Ms. Harnois did not receive any cash but used some of the stolen money to buy hair dye.
The third witness, Detective Andrea King, explained that a vehicle search of the white Hyundai Santa Fe produced both the gun and marijuana from Mr. Ferber’s backpack. The Beretta M9 had 29 bullets left inside and was unregistered. In Ms. Harnois’ statement, she claimed that he always keeps the gun in his backpack.
Ms. Bonge and Ms. Harnois are each charged with second degree robbery, two counts of assault with a firearm, conspiracy to commit a crime, carrying a loaded concealed weapon, and possession of a firearm while committing a felony.
Mr. Ferber faces the same charges in addition to one count of great bodily harm, three counts of infliction of great bodily harm, and two counts of use of a firearm.
The hearing will resume with the cross-examination of Detective Andrea King at 1:30pm in Department 9.