Sacramento man convicted in ambush killing of former girlfriend

A Yolo County jury on Thursday found William Carl Gardner III, of Sacramento, guilty of murder in the ambush shooting of his former girlfriend in downtown Winters last November.

Gardner faced murder, felony stalking and firearms counts at trial in Yolo Superior Court in Woodland connected to the shooting death of Leslie Pinkston, along with five enhancements, including using a firearm causing death, committing a felony while released on bail and possessing a weapon as a felon.

Jurors convicted on all counts, according to Yolo County district attorney’s officials. Sentencing is scheduled Dec. 1.

Gardner shot Pinkston, 32, at close range Nov. 18, 2013, as she sat in her car on a Winters street. Pinkston died a short time later at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. She was shot three days after Gardner was released on bail from Yolo County custody on an unrelated domestic violence charge.

Gardner fled California following the fatal shooting, sparking a nationwide manhunt and eluding authorities before he was finally taken in Dec. 10, 2013, following a six-hour standoff at a Las Vegas apartment complex.

Gardner, also known as Malik Mahammad, had been arrested numerous times in Sacramento County, according to court records, on charges ranging from criminal threats to domestic violence to firearms violations and drug possession.

Court records further showed a history of accusations of physical abuse in Sacramento County and Yolo County.

The same December 2013 day that federal and Las Vegas authorities were involved in the standoff with Gardner, he was due in a Yolo County courtroom to face charges of stalking and threatening Pinkston and her mother in January 2013 at the women’s Winters home.

Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.