Kerstan Leonard convicted of murder, other charges, for 2008 shooting that killed Melody Williams

A D.C. man was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder while armed for a drug-related 2008 shooting that killed an innocent bystander and wounded two others, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Kerstan Leonard, 30, was a drug dealer in the Stanton Glenn apartment complex in Southeast Washington, according to government evidence. On December 5, 2008, at about 11:15 p.m., he took part in a shooting in the 3000 block of Stanton Road Southeast. At least 22 shots were fired into an apartment building occupied by his rivals.

A 41-year old woman was killed in the crossfire. Melody Williams, who according to evidence had no connection to the drug rivalry, was waiting outside for a ride to work. Williams was a night-shift nursing assistant at a District facility for the elderly. She tried to escape the gunfire, but was struck by a bullet in the back and killed.

Her nieces were waiting with her outside the building and were also struck, but survived. None of Leonard's intended targets were struck by gunfire.

In addition to the murder charge, a jury found Leonard guilty of two counts of assault with intent to kill while armed, and related firearms offenses.

The Honorable Gerald I. Fisher, who presided at the trial, scheduled Leonard’s sentencing for September 9, 2009.