Kawhi Leonard’s Sister Sentenced To Life In Prison For Casino Murder

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The sister of NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard was sentenced to life in prison for the 2019 murder of an elderly woman at a casino. 

Kimesha Williams, 39, is one of Leonard’s four older sisters. She and Candace Townsell were convicted Friday of killing and robbing 84-year-old Afaf Assad in a bathroom at Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, California on August 31, 2019. 

There is no opportunity for the pair to leave prison early on parole.

What happened that day?

Williams and Townsell were both convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, and elder abuse in Riverside County Superior Court on February 8.

First-degree murder is the most serious murder charge. It is for offenses in which the murder is deemed willfully premeditated and with intent and malice.

According to reports, Assad and her husband of 59 years, 93-year-old Youanness, entered the casino with roughly $1,000 in gambling money inside a pink purse. Assad went to the bathroom and Williams followed her in while Townsell stayed outside as a lookout, supposedly even preventing a custodian from entering.

Shortly thereafter, a woman in a stall inside the bathroom claimed that she heard a thud which turned out to be Assad falling to the floor. Williams and Townsell were then spotted scrambling for the exit while the victim was unconscious on the floor. 

Assad was later diagnosed with a fractured skull. She never regained consciousness and died at the hospital four days later. 

The purse that Assad used to carry the money was never located, but Riverside County Senior Deputy District Attorney Marcus Garrett claimed that there was a “deep laceration” on her arm where she had been carrying the purse.

Although there were no direct witnesses to the crime, the court found that it had enough evidence to proceed with the decision. The one-month trial concluded after two hours of deliberation and saw the two women hit with three severe charges.

Tragic history

Williams was no stranger to trouble at real-money casinos. She was permanently banned from the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon and the Yaamava Casino in Highland for nabbing winning tickets right out of patrons’ hands, Senior Deputy District Attorney Garrett revealed in a filing. She also had a previous charge for robbery.

Townsell was banned from the Soboba Casino Resort in San Jacinto in 2017 for 90 days after two purses went missing. She was also barred entry from the Morongo Casino in 2018 due to a situation between her and her boyfriend.

Williams’ attorney read a statement on her behalf at the sentencing.

“I am so sorry for your loss,” said the statement. “I have been praying for you and your family every day. I am not responsible for the death of Mrs. Assad. Although the courts have found me guilty of the charges, we all know the truth, and that there is one judge, and that is God, and that he knows the truth.” 

Leonard was not present in court for his sister’s sentencing as he continues a playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. He did not play in Game Three or Game Four of the seven-game stand, which stands 3-1 in favor of the Suns, because of a sprained right knee.

Leonard grew up in Riverside, CA before playing his college ball at San Diego State University. He was then selected 15th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft and went on to become a five-time All-Star, two-time champion, and two-time Finals MVP.

Leonard’s father, Mark Leonard, was shot and killed in front of a car wash business he owned in 2008. The incident happened just before closing time, and Leonard’s father was ready to leave to watch his son, then a junior in high school, play in a game.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.