UPDATE: A Kern judge on Monday ordered Matthew Queen to stand trial on all 34 charges filed against him, including torture and murder.
Judge Brian M. McNamara issued his ruling following a four-day preliminary hearing. The counts involve multiple incidents, including the slaying of Bakersfield 3 member Micah Holsonbake.
Queen faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A police detective on Monday testified he was told “Bakersfield 3” member Baylee Despot had threatened to kill a man, believing he had stolen a gun.
“I’ll kill that (expletive) if I get a chance,” Despot said of Micah Holsonbake, according to a witness who spoke with Detective Chad Garrett.
Prosecutors say she followed through on that threat.
They allege Despot and Matthew Queen, 44, tortured and killed Holsonbake in March 2018. His severed arm turned up in the Kern River months later. The rest of his body has not been found.
Garrett’s testimony came on the fourth day of Queen’s preliminary hearing, in which a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to order Queen to stand trial on murder and dozens of other counts.
Despot is also charged. She disappeared in April 2018 and hasn’t been heard from since.
It’s alleged she and Queen tortured Holsonbake to extract information from him about the alleged stolen gun. Witnesses have testified Queen and Holsonbake put together illegal AR-15-style weapons.
The garage where prosecutors say Holsonbake was tortured was owned by Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele, prosecutors say. Vandecasteele, 34, is charged with kidnapping, conspiracy and manufacturing an assault weapon.
Garrett questioned Vandecasteele while the latter was in jail. He said Vandecasteele admitted Despot and Queen asked to use his garage to question Holsonbake, and that Despot entered the house twice to grab items she then took back to the garage. One item was a pair of scissors, the other a paring knife.
Later, Despot entered Vandecasteele’s house shaking and “looking pale as a ghost,” Vandecasteele said according to Garrett. Queen told Vandecasteele that Despot saw something she shouldn’t have, according to Vandecasteele’s statement.
The next day, Vandecasteele told Garrett, Queen went back to Vandecasteele’s house and asked for help disposing of something. Garrett said Vandecasteele told him he saw a large black tub with a black lid — big enough to hold a body — in the rear of Queen’s vehicle.
Vandecasteele said he was “dope sick” from using drugs the night before and didn’t go with Queen to get rid of what was in the tub, Garrett testified.
Both Holsonbake and Despot are members of what’s known as the “Bakersfield 3,” acquaintances who were killed or went missing within two months of each other in 2018. James Kulsad, the third person, was shot and killed in southwest Bakersfield April 8, 2018, and his killing remains unsolved.
Other charges against Queen relate to him kidnapping and threatening other people, prosecutors say. Two people testified at the hearing that Queen had kidnapped and pointed a gun at them in separate incidents.
One witness, Megan Farmer, said Queen pointed a gun at her as he questioned her over whether Despot had been faithful to him. Another witness, Caleb Seiler, told the court Queen and two other men took him from his bed in the middle of the night and drove him around the Oildale area while questioning him.
Queen pointed a gun at him that Seiler believed was real but turned out to be a BB gun, Seiler said.
Seiler said he, Queen and later Holsonbake were involved in the illegal manufacture of AR-style rifles. He testified they kept some and sold others.