La Mesa man who fatally shot driver on East County Highway sentenced to 50 years to life in prison

A La Mesa man who chased another vehicle on State Route 94 and fatally shot its driver was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years to life in prison.

Thomas Evans III, 49, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder and alleged use of a firearm in the March 5, 2022, killing of 27-year-old Saundralina Williams.

Williams, a National City resident and mother of three, crashed into the highway’s central reservation after being shot. She died a few days later in a hospital.

Two men who were passengers in Williams’ vehicle were not struck by the gunfire.

One of the bullets fired by Evans hit a Spring Valley apartment just south of the highway, but none of its occupants were hit, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing last year before the El Cajon Superior Court.

According to testimony, Williams was driving a Ford Edge in a residential area of ​​La Mesa near Evans’ home around 5 a.m. and his two passengers were carrying packages to homes in the area.

California Highway Patrol investigator Art Berain said that, based on surveillance footage from a nearby home, Williams had parked across the street from Evans’ house at one point. Berain testified that in the footage, Evans can be seen running toward the Edge, which is speeding away, and Evans then points what appears to be a gun at the vehicle.

Prosecutors allege Evans pursued the Ford Edge through surface streets and then onto state Route 94 westbound before shooting at Williams on the highway just east of Kenwood Drive.

Evans was arrested at his home approximately two weeks later, after further investigation identified him as the registered owner of a Toyota Tacoma. Investigators believed the shooter was driving.

Berain testified that Evans told him that on the night of March 5, he was awakened by a noise and found two men inside his garage. One of the men shot him and he returned fire in self-defense, although Berain said there was no evidence to suggest a shooting occurred inside the garage.

Berain testified that Evans said he then “blacked out,” couldn’t remember what happened next, and made no mention of the shooting on the highway.

California Daily Newspapers

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