NBA Star Kawhi Leonard’s Sister Charged With Murder of 84-Year-Old Woman at California Casino

Photo: Courtesy of Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (via the Press-Enterprise)

The sister of NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard has been charged with murder in the death of an 84-year-old woman following a robbery at a casino near Temecula, Calif.

According to the Riverside, Calif., Press-Enterprise, surveillance camera footage from Aug. 31 shows Leonard’s sister, Kimesha Monae Williams, 35, and Candace Tai Townsel, 39, following Afaf Anis Assad, 84, into a bathroom at the Pechanga Resort Casino. Minutes later, both women disappeared and Assad was found unconscious with a broken skull and a brain bleed. Her purse, which held about $1,000 was also missing. She died Sept. 4.

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Williams and Townsel were arrested on Sept. 3 and “charged with murder, robbery, elder abuse and a special circumstance of committing a robbery during a murder that makes them eligible for the death penalty. The District Attorney’s Office hasn’t decided whether to seek the penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole, spokesman John Hall said,” according to the Press-Enterprise.

Williams’ aunt, Denise Woodard, confirmed to the newspaper that Williams and Leonard are sister and brother. Woodard didn’t know whether the newly signed Los Angeles Clipper had reached out to the family or Williams following her arrest.

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“He didn’t have anything to do with this,” said Woodard, a resident of Morena Valley, Calif., where Leonard graduated from high school.

He’s the second superstar athlete in recent weeks who’s had to deal with a relative being accused of committing a heinous crime. Gymnast Simone Biles’ brother was arrested and charged with a triple murder last month.

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One law enforcement official seemed to allude to the NBA star’s finances in his written request to the judge that Williams be denied bail.

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“Williams has family that are well off and could post her bail of $1,000,000,” a Riverside County investigator wrote. “I am requesting NO BAIL to assure Williams’ appearance in court and to keep innocent victims safe,” the Press-Enterprise reports.

Leonard signed a three-year, $103 million max contract deal with the LA Clippers in July. A spokesman for the DA wouldn’t confirm to the Press-Enterprise that the investigator was referring to Leonard.

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Williams and Townsel are being held without bail and will be arraigned on Sept. 19.

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Genetta M. Adams

Genetta M. Adams is Managing Editor of The Root.