Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento jury convicts man of killing aunt of NBA player Matt Barnes

After his aunt was slain, NBA player Matt Barnes (22) turned to social media to seek help finding her killer.
After his aunt was slain, NBA player Matt Barnes (22) turned to social media to seek help finding her killer. AP

A Sacramento jury has convicted a man of first-degree murder in the stabbing of his estranged wife, the aunt of NBA basketball player Matt Barnes.

Michael Williams, 52, was convicted Wednesday in the July 8, 2014, killing of Tanganyika Williams, 41. Prosecutors said Tanganyika Williams was planning to end their marriage when she was stabbed twice in the neck while she was in a van with her husband on 24th Street in Sacramento.

The arrest warrant affidavit filed in Sacramento Superior Court states that two passers-by found a partially naked Tanganyika Williams “struggling to stay alive” after the attack. One of them grabbed a bed sheet from his home and tried to cover Williams, homicide Detective Brian DeDonder wrote in the affidavit. The witness relayed that the victim was trying to say something, but he couldn’t remember what was said.

A passing bicyclist, however, remembered the woman repeatedly saying the name “Michael Williams,” DeDonder wrote. Unsure of the victim’s meaning, the man helping her asked her to clarify.

“Yeah, Michael Williams is the one that did this,” Tanganyika Williams responded, according to the detective’s account of the man’s statement to police.

She died that day at a local hospital from massive blood loss.

Her son, David Williams Jr., told The Bee after her death that his mother loved children and, as the mother of four and grandmother of two, was in the process of opening a day-care business. He described her as a “happy-go-lucky person.”

During the search for Michael Williams, then-Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes took to social media to seek the public’s help in finding the man accused of killing his aunt. Barnes grew up in the Sacramento area, starring at Del Campo High School on the basketball court and the football field.

On Twitter and Instagram, Barnes, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, asked that anyone aware of Williams’ whereabouts call police. Michael Williams was arrested, but authorities did not say whether Barnes’ appeal on social media contributed to Williams being taken into custody.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 29.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews