Crime - Sacto 911

Suspect in Winters homicide pleads not guilty

William Gardner III, the Sacramento man accused of murder in the November ambush shooting of his ex-girlfriend in downtown Winters, pleaded not guilty to the charge Thursday in Yolo Superior Court.

Gardner, 30, is accused of shooting Leslie Pinkston, 32, at close range as she sat in her car the morning of Nov. 18. Pinkston, who had a court-ordered criminal protective order against Gardner, died a short time later at Sacramento’s UC Davis Medical Center.

His next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14, county prosecutors said. He is being held in Yolo County custody without bail.

Gardner’s criminal record in Sacramento County includes criminal threats, domestic violence, firearms violations and drug possession. He was awaiting a December trial date in Yolo Superior Court at the time of the shooting on charges of stalking and threatening Pinkston and her mother, Carla Crane, in January 2013.

Gardner had missed an Oct. 22 hearing in Sacramento Superior Court on an unrelated domestic-violence case and was held in Yolo County before being released on bail Nov. 15, three days before Pinkston was fatally shot.

Gardner fled the state after the shooting and was on the run for weeks before U.S. Marshals and police tracked him down Dec. 9 at a Las Vegas apartment complex. Gardner holed up in the apartment for six hours before surrendering to authorities the next day. Gardner was extradited from Nevada to Yolo County on Dec. 31.

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