Kawhi Leonard’s Big Sister Goes on Trial for Pechanga Casino Murder

Posted on: December 28, 2022, 09:17h. 

Last updated on: December 28, 2022, 02:40h.

The trial of two women accused of beating a senior citizen to death in a bathroom at the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, Calif. is set to begin this week.

Kimesha Williams, Kawhi Leonard
Kimesha Williams, left, is Kawhi Leonard’s, right, elder sister. The NBA star has ensured his sister gets the best criminal defense lawyer money can buy. (Image: Oxygen)

Candace Tai Townsell, 42, and Kimesha Monae Williams, 38, both of Moreno Valley, allegedly left Afaf Anis Assad, 84, battered on the bathroom floor, her skull broken. That’s after the pair allegedly robbed her of $1,000.

Williams is the elder sister of NBA star Kawhi Leonard.

The defendants are charged with first-degree murder, robbery, and elder abuse. In addition, they face a special circumstance charge of committing a robbery during a murder, which makes them eligible for the death penalty, although it’s not clear whether prosecutors intend to seek this remedy.

Followed and Attacked

On Tuesday at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, the prosecution and defense submitted pretrial motions related to witnesses, evidence, and scheduling, My News LA reported. Jury selection is expected to commence Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors allege the defendants saw Assad enter the casino with her husband at around 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 31, 2019. Townsell and Williams were exiting the casino at the time and did an about-turn when they noticed a pink purse dangling from Assad’s arm, according to investigators who studied security video. The pair are then seen following Assad into the bathroom and emerging four minutes later.

Assad was found soon after by a hotel guest and casino employee. She was unconscious and bleeding from the brain. Her handbag was missing.

She was taken to the Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar where she died four days later. Williams and Townsel, 39, were arrested on September 3. Following Assad’s death, they were charged with murder.

Hotshot Lawyer

Peter Ginsberg, the lawyer for Williams’ wealthy kid brother, Kawhi, helped to organize the defense, according to The Press Enterprise. Williams will be defended by Virginia Blumenthal, who is widely considered one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the country.

I was asked by the family to find the best, so I did,” said Ginsberg told the Press-Enterprise in 2020. At the time he was representing Leonard in his ultimately unsuccessful copyright lawsuit against Nike.

Tounsel has a previous conviction for petty theft, while Williams has a lengthy criminal history that includes petty theft, grand theft, misappropriating lost property, grand theft auto, and attempted robbery.

At the time of the alleged murder, Williams was banned from the casino because she had been caught stealing a wallet from a customer back in 2015.