Pechanga Resort Casino Defendants Found Guilty of Murder By California Jury

Posted on: February 9, 2023, 03:53h. 

Last updated on: February 10, 2023, 11:02h.

Two women were convicted Wednesday for robbing and murdering an 84-year-old woman in a restroom at Temecula, California’s Pechanga Resort Casino, according to a local news report.

Candace Tai Townsel, left, and Kimesha Monae Williams
Candace Tai Townsel, left, and Kimesha Monae Williams in mug shots, pictured above. They were found guilty this week of a casino robbery and murder.  (Image: Riverside County Sheriff’s Office)

The Murrieta, Calif. jury deliberated for just two hours before concluding that Candace Tai Townsel, 42, and Kimesha Monae Williams, 38, both of Moreno Valley, were guilty of the death of Afaf Anis Assad of Long Beach, Calif.

The two were convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, elder abuse, and a special charge of killing during a robbery, with great bodily injury, Patch reported.

Their trial began last month, and witness testimony lasted for several weeks. Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented closing arguments on Tuesday.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer will announce the sentences at a later date. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

Life in Prison Likely

Both defendants are likely to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to reports from  Patch.

Townsel continues to be held at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, Calif. Williams is being held at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, Calif. Neither was given bail.

Williams has prior convictions for auto theft, burglary, and grand theft. Townsel was previously convicted of theft and driving on a suspended license.

Williams is the sister of Los Angeles Clippers basketball player Kawhi Leonard, according to The Press-Enterprise, a California newspaper.

Crime Details

The incident dates back to August 31, 2019. William and Townsel spotted Afaf Assad and her 92-year-old husband walk into the gaming property as they were getting ready to leave at 7:30 am.

Williams and Townsel followed Assad into the bathroom and stood by an exit while she went into a stall.

When Assad left the stall, one of the suspects then allegedly yanked a pink purse from her. The force used to swipe the bag severely bruised her left arm, prosecutors said. The other suspect allegedly pushed Assad, who fell, striking her head on the floor.

The duo kept a custodian from entering the restroom until after they fled with the purse. Inside was between $800 and $1,200 in cash.

While still on the gaming property, Townsel was “skipping and waiving her hands in a celebratory fashion,” according to prosecutors.

When the custodian entered the restroom, she found Assad bleeding and unconscious. She contacted casino security and EMTs, who provided initial treatment.

Assad was rushed to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, Calif. She didn’t regain consciousness, and doctors determined she suffered a brain hemorrhage, Patch said. Three days later, she died.

The attack was caught on surveillance video. The two women were arrested about a week later.