Jury begins deliberations in trial of man accused of killing girlfriend in Banning

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BANNING (CNS) – Jury deliberations got underway Monday in the trial of a man accused of gunning down his ex-girlfriend at her Banning home.
Devonta Eugene Leonard, 22, of Beaumont is charged with murder, child endangerment and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations in the 2018 death of 21-year-old Evangelina Ysiano.
Testimony began nearly two weeks ago at the Banning Justice Center and concluded Thursday, when both the prosecution and defense rested. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sam Shouka sent the jury home for the weekend, directing the panel to return this morning to start weighing evidence.
According to the prosecution, the defendant and Ysiano were in a relationship for seven years, until the victim ended it in August 2017, mainly because of Leonard’s abusive behavior.
The two had a daughter, who was 4 years old at the time her mother was killed.
To support its contention that Leonard was a domestic abuser who continually threatened Ysiano’s life, the prosecution submitted nearly 2,500 text messages in which the defendant allegedly fumed at the victim, repeatedly demanding to know where she was, whether she was available to feed him and whether he could “stay the night.”
According to court papers, in a Feb. 4, 2018, text, Leonard wrote, “You make me want to blast your ass.” In a Feb. 8, 2018, text, he told Ysiano that if she didn’t let him into her house, he would not forgive her and to “watch your back.”
In a Feb. 11, 2018, message, the defendant threatened to “shoot up your house” if Ysiano failed to return his phone call, according to the prosecution.
In most instances, she responded in a conciliatory way, encouraging her ex-boyfriend to calm down and seek help, according to documents.
On Feb. 20, 2018, Leonard allegedly went to the residence in the 500 block of North Hathaway Street, gained entry and opened fire with a handgun, fatally wounding the victim. Their child was present but not in the line of fire, according to Banning police.
Leonard, who has no documented prior felony convictions, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility.