WOODLAND — A Winters murder trial has been postponed from later this month to October after a Yolo Superior Court judge received compelling information he says necessitates the two-month delay.
William Carl Gardner III, 31, is accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend Leslie Pinkston on Nov. 18, 2013, as she sat inside her parked vehicle on Railroad Avenue in downtown Winters. He was arrested several weeks later after fleeing to Las Vegas.
Defense attorney J. Toney, who represents Gardner, had filed two motions to continue the trial, which the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office had opposed. But it was the details contained in a one-page affidavit filed under seal Friday morning that prompted Judge Stephen Mock to ultimately grant a continuance.
While none of the issues raised in Toney’s motions raised good cause for a delay, “the information that has just been provided to me … makes it evident that there is indeed an absolute necessity to continue the trial in this case,” Mock said, setting a new trial date of Oct. 20.
The newly disclosed information, protected under attorney-client privilege laws, was not disclosed in court.
However, Toney did say earlier in the proceeding that he has had difficulty holding private conversations with Gardner at the Yolo County Jail, where Toney said an officer has been posted outside the facility’s interview room, presumably for safety reasons.
“Mr. Gardner was absolutely unwilling to discuss anything about the case” under those conditions, Toney said, though he noted that the matter has since been resolved. However, Toney said he plans to request that Gardner be transferred to another jail while his case is pending.
District Attorney Jeff Reisig, who is prosecuting the case along with one of his deputies, Deanna Hays, questioned why Toney took seven months — the amount of time that Gardner has been incarcerated — to raise the jailhouse issues.
“For them to wait until this time … is not genuine,” Reisig said. “He could have dealt with this much sooner, and they didn’t.”
Gardner’s trial is expected to last about three weeks. His murder case has been consolidated with a stalking and criminal threats case that was pending at the time he allegedly shot Pinkston, 32, who was the alleged victim in that case and was slated to testify against Gardner.
The DA’s office announced in May that it would not seek the death penalty against Gardner, whose murder charge carries the two special-circumstance allegations of murder of a witness and lying in wait. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene