The Washington Post

Guilty verdict for D.C. man in ‘08 murder of innocent bystander

A District man found guilty of first-degree murder and releated charges in the 2008 shooting of a woman caught in a gun battle repeatedly shook his head and said “I didn’t do it” after hearing the jury’s verdict Tuesday.

Standing next to his attorney, Kerstan Leonard, 30, refused demands by marshals to remain silent and instead told D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher he was not responsible for the fatal shooting of Melody Williams as she waited for a ride to work.

Prosecutors said Leonard, a drug dealer in the Stanton Glenn apartment complex in Southeast Washington, fired at least 22 shots at a rival dealer in an apartment building in the 3000 block of Stanton Road SE at around 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2008.

Williams, 41, was a night shift supervisor at a District facility for the elderly. She tried to run for cover after she was struck, according to authorities. Her nieces, who were waiting with her, were also wounded in the shooting. None of the intended targets were struck by the gunfire, prosecutors said.

“I didn’t do this,” he said after the jury had been excused. “I’m about to serve time for a crime I didn’t do. I wasn’t there when this happened. I’m being held responsible for something I did not do.”

Leonard is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9.

This item has been updated.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.


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