WINTERS (CBS13) – A nationwide manhunt is on for the suspect who police say killed a woman one week ago. The shooting happened three short weeks before William Gardner was to stand trial for stalking and threatening his ex-girlfriend, Leslie Pinkston.
“Had he been remanded to custody and stood trial for the stalking case against her, he would’ve been sent to prison. I firmly believe that,” said Katie Winkler, a friend of Leslie Pinkston.
Gardner was back in Yolo County Jail on a bench warrant issued for repeatedly failing to show up for court in the stalking case. Still, a judge set a new bond. That was on Wednesday, November 13.
For reasons we may never know, the DA’s office says it was Leslie Pinkston herself who paid the $130 that ultimately set Gardner free. The sheriff’s department tells the DA’s office it is her signature on the receipt.
Just days later, Gardner allegedly ambushed Pinkston, shooting her in the head outside her office in downtown Winters, say police.
“We don’t know the layers to this relationship,” say police.
Julie Bornhoeft with WEAVE, an agency against violence against woman, says domestic violence victims sometimes make choices that make no sense from the outside, but are made for safety’s sake.
“Whether it be safety, whether it be having heard if you just do this one last thing I’ll leave you alone, the fact is she is not responsible for her own death,” said Bornhoeft. “He and he alone needs to be held accountable.”
Leslie’s friends say she did everything she could to protect herself and her 6-year-old daughter from Gardner who has a lengthy criminal past. She filed a restraining order against him in January.
Friends simply do not believe Pinkston would have helped Garnder get out of jail.
“No other family should go through this. No other child should live without her mother. It’s wrong. It’s very wrong,” said Winkler. “And I am angry and I am horrified and heartbroken for the loss of my friend, but I am angry that it happened in the first place.”
Gardner remains free and US Marshals are trying to hunt him down.