They are a New York attorney who has advocated for sports stars in civil and disciplinary matters and defendants in white-collar crime cases, a Riverside criminal defense lawyer regarded as one of the best in the county and a criminal defense attorney who has tried nine death penalty cases.
Kimesha Monae Williams, 35, and Candace Tai Townsel, 39, have been charged with murder, robbery and cruelty to an elder. Afaf Assad was found with a broken skull in a bathroom at the casino near Temecula on Aug. 31 and died Sept. 4. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said casino video showed Williams and Townsel following Assad into the bathroom. (Williams had been banned from the casino in 2015 after a theft.) After the defendants emerged, Assad’s purse was missing, said a sworn statement written to obtain an arrest warrant.
The robbery makes the defendants eligible for the death penalty if convicted. District Attorney Mike Hestrin has not decided whether to pursue that punishment, spokesman John Hall said. The women, both residents of Moreno Valley, were due back in Superior Court in French Valley on Wednesday, Jan. 8, for a status hearing. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.