A 22-year-old man who gunned down his ex-girlfriend at her Banning home was convicted today of first-degree murder and other charges.
A Banning jury deliberated less than a day before finding Devonta Eugene Leonard of Beaumont guilty of the 2018 slaying of 21-year-old Evangelina Ysiano. In addition to the murder count, jurors convicted Leonard of child endangerment and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
Testimony in the nearly two-week trial concluded Thursday at the Banning Justice Center, and following closing arguments by the prosecution and defense Monday morning, jurors were sent behind closed doors to weigh the defendant’s fate. The panel returned the verdict Tuesday morning.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sam Shouka scheduled a sentencing hearing for Dec. 6. Leonard is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility.
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 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, court documents showed.
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 went to the residence in the 500 block of North Hathaway Street, gained entry and opened fire with a handgun, fatally wounding the victim, according to Banning police.
Their child was present but not in the line of fire. Leonard had no documented prior felony convictions.