'Something got out of hand': Friend defends suspects in Pechanga casino killing, robbery

TEMECULA, Calif. (KABC) -- The two women accused of fatally assaulting and robbing an elderly woman at the Pechanga casino last month appeared in a Murrieta courtroom Thursday, but questions are being raised about their criminal history.

Kemisha Williams, who is the sister of L.A. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, and Candace Townsel were scheduled to be arraigned on murder, robbery, and elder abuse charges in the alleged murder of 84-year-old Long Beach resident, Afaf Assad in a casino bathroom on Aug. 31. But, their arraignment was postponed until Oct. 30 at the request of their attorneys.

Both women mostly likely didn't intend to hurt the victim, according to a friend of the suspects.

"I say something got out of hand cause I don't believe it was intentional. I think it was something that got out of hand," Latisha Garrett said.

Garrett said has know both women for a long time.

"It is a shock I heard the news like are suspect of doing something like that because it mind boggles me because I've been knowing them for a long time," said Garrett.

While Townsel was appointed a public defender, Williams appeared with noted Riverside criminal defense attorney, Virigina Blumenthal.

Blumenthal would not say who retained her services, only stating that was "privately retained."

RELATED: Suspects in Pechanga casino killing, robbery have criminal history, records show

The relationship between Leonard and his sister is one that has one of Williams' and Townsel's previous victims asking why they needed to steal from her.

"If you have a brother that has all this money why don't you ask him for the money instead of stealing from people. If you are so well off," Kat Brod said.

Brod was robbed in her driveway after she stopped at a gas station on July 27. Williams and Townsel allegedly followed her home. She had over $1,000 from a paycheck she cashed and tips from her job as a dancer at a club.

"Not even a few minutes later they run a red light, thank god there was a cop right there," she said.

Both women were convicted and sentenced to serve 30 days for the robbery. Brod said she only recently learned Williams and Townsel were arrested and charged in the murder of Assad a month later.

"They could have killed me that night, you know that. I am lucky they didn't," said Brod.
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