MUR­DER CHARGE DROPPED AGAINST WOMAN IN 2015 DEATH

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Ryan Au­tullo rautullo@states­man.com Con­tact Ryan Au­tullo at 512-445-3958. Twit­ter: @au­tul­loAAS

A mur­der charge has been dis­missed against a home­less woman charged with the mur­der of a home­less man two years ago out­side of a church near down­town Austin.

Leigh Bo­hart, 53, has been cleared in the April 13, 2015, beat­ing of Clarence Gard­ner, ac­cord­ing to her at­tor­ney, Robb Shep­herd. The dis­missed charge comes af­ter a co-de­fen­dant, Mark Ke­nady, pleaded guilty last week to mur- der for strik­ing Gard­ner over the head with a brick. Ke­nady ac­cepted 45 years in prison as part of a ne­go­ti­ated plea.

Ke­nady told the court Bo­hart had noth­ing to do with the mur­der, ac­cord­ing to Guillermo Gonzalez, who over­sees the Travis County district at­tor­ney’s trial divi­sion. Ev­i­dence pin­ning Bo­hart to the mur­der was “ten­u­ous,” Gonzalez said.

Ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit from his June 2016 ar­rest, Ke­nady told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he fought Gard­ner be­cause Gard­ner had thrown Bo­hart’s clothes into the trash. Ke­nady told deputies he knocked the other man un­con­scious with a punch, then took a piece of stone and hit Gard­ner over the head. When that didn’t kill him, ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest af­fi­davit, Ke­nady grabbed a brick and con­tin­ued the beat­ing. He then loaded Gard­ner into a recycling bin and twice stabbed him in the back, the af­fi­davit says.

The fight came af­ter police were dis­patched to the church in the 500 block of Bouldin Av­enue to in­ter­vene in an ar­gu­ment Gard- ner was hav­ing with Bo­hart.

Bo­hart was sched­uled to be re­leased from jail on Tues­day night, ac­cord­ing to Shep­herd, who said sher­iff ’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors had in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to ar­rest his client based on the eye­wit­ness ac­count of a legally blind man. That witness told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he saw a woman out­side of the church mov­ing a recycling bin about the time the crime oc­curred. Gard­ner was found dead the fol­low­ing day at a recycling cen­ter in Creed­moor in south­east Travis County.

There were other in­con­sis­ten­cies, Shep­herd said. The blind witness told in­ves­ti­ga­tors the woman push­ing the bin had blue hair, which Bo­hart did not. And the witness said this hap­pened about 7 p.m., some seven hours be­fore the time Ke­nady said the mur­der oc­curred.

“Just re­ally happy for her,” Shep­herd said. “I’m go­ing to make her life bet­ter — hope­fully I can.”

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