Update: Winters homicide suspect accused of stalking victim earlier this year

Leslie Pinkston’s suspected killer faced charges of stalking and threatening her earlier this year and was set to face trial on the allegations in December.

William Carl Gardner III, 30, of Sacramento faced felony allegations of stalking, threats to commit crimes resulting in death or great bodily injury and vandalism, according to information filed May 13 in Yolo Superior Court in Woodland. Authorities say Gardner was a former boyfriend of Pinkston, 32, of Winters.

Gardner remained at large Tuesday.

The alleged threat against Pinkston was “so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific as to ... cause that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety,” records show. Pinkston was identified as the victim by the initials “L.P.”

The court issued a criminal protective order to protect Pinkston from Gardner in connection with the case, said Michael Cabral, Yolo County assistant chief deputy district attorney, who declined to comment further.

Court records show Gardner failed to appear for an Oct. 15 Yolo Superior Court hearing related to the case.

Pinkston was shot and killed at close range about 9:30 a.m. Monday as she sat in her car in downtown Winters. She was listed as a witness expected to testify at Gardner’s scheduled Dec. 9 trial in Yolo Superior Court, according to court filings.

The charges in Yolo Superior Court included an enhancement for committing a felony while out on bail.

The calm of the small Yolo County town was broken when Pinkston was shot inside her vehicle in the 300 block of Railroad Avenue, a short distance from the Aleco Electric office where she worked. Police arrived on the scene to find Pinkston dying from gunshot wounds. Firefighter and ambulance personnel rendered aid to the bleeding woman.

Pinkston survived a helicopter flight to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento but was later declared dead.

Police received information that a man was seen fleeing from near Pinkston’s vehicle after the gunshots. He was described as a black man, about 30 years old, who was wearing a gray hooded sweat shirt and tan cargo pants.

He was seen running eastbound toward a nearby coffee shop, still armed with a handgun, according to a police press release.

A search of the town and surrounding area by Winters police and deputies from the Yolo and Solano sheriff’s departments failed to turn up anybody. Further investigation revealed that the man fled the scene in a tan van with a sliding side door.

An arrest warrant has been obtained for Gardner in Pinkston’s slaying. Sacramento police and Yolo County officers surrounded a house in north Sacramento late Monday after finding a vehicle believed to be tied to the man. However, authorities determined he was not in the home.

Gardner has a lengthy criminal record out of Sacramento County with arrests ranging from auto theft to domestic violence and criminal threats to drug possession and firearms violations, according to Sacramento Superior Court records.

As police continued their manhunt Tuesday, Pinkston’s friends mourned.

A YouTube tribute “dedicated to our friend, daughter and mother,” set to gentle solo piano, showed Pinkston in happier times. Scenes of Pinkston and her daughter sharing ice cream shakes and days in the park were interspersed with candid photographs and “selfies” taken with girlfriends and family before the montage ended with verse.

“We know you are in a better place/But we miss looking at your face

“Wondering why does it have to be this way/It hurts so much because there’s nothing we can do or say”

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding Gardner. Witnesses to the killing or anyone who knows Gardner’s whereabouts are asked to call (530) 795-4561.