BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The death of Micah Holsonbake occurred during a struggle over a gun and at the hands of another member of the so-called “Bakersfield 3,” his accused killer testified Monday.
Matthew Queen testified Holsonbake became furious when he needled him over a sexual encounter as they hung out in Queen’s garage. Holsonbake pointed a gun at him, Queen said.
When Despot entered the garage, he turned the gun on her and Queen tackled him, according to his testimony. As they struggled on the ground, Queen said he yelled to Despot to grab the gun. She couldn’t find it.
She chose another course of action, Queen said.
“Baylee dropped a 40-pound dumbbell on his head,” Queen said, his voice quavering as he described Holsonbake’s death throes.
Queen’s testimony came Monday afternoon in his trial on charges of murder, torture, kidnapping and multiple other offenses that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
Queen, 45, and Despot, are accused of questioning Micah Holsonbake in late March 2018 about a missing gun. Prosecutors say they tortured and killed him then disposed of his body. Holsonbake’s skull and left arm have been recovered from the Kern River.
Despot went missing shortly after Holsonbake and has not been located. She, Holsonbake and James Kulstad became known as the “Bakersfield 3” because each was killed or went missing within two months. Kulstad’s death is not connected to Queen’s case, authorities say.
The defendant, who wore a black shirt and tie, was composed through most of his testimony, answering questions clearly and at length. He became emotional when he spoke about Holsonbake’s death, saying his biggest fear was his 4-year-old son would walk in and see the corpse.
With Holsonbake dead, Queen said, he and Despot scrambled to decide what to do next.
They were out on bail in another case. Telling police there was a dead body in his garage — and his girlfriend was responsible — wasn’t an option, Queen said.
Instead, he texted Matthew Vandecasteele, his best friend, and said he needed to use his garage. It contained a number of tools for disassembling vehicles.
Queen said he didn’t tell Vandecasteele why he was coming over.
He and Despot used a large roll of plastic to wrap Holsonbake’s body and cleaned up as best they could, Queen said. They loaded the body in his Chevy Suburban then drove to Vandecasteele’s home on North Half Moon Drive.
Vandecasteele opened the garage for him then left, Queen said, never seeing Holsonbake’s body nor asking why they were there.
Queen said he and Despot began work on their grim task.
“Baylee had a plan to chop him up and drop him in the ocean, or the lake,” Queen said.
The plan didn’t make much sense, Queen said. But they had few options.
During the trial, now in its third week, multiple witnesses have testified Queen, for various reasons, menaced them — several saying he threatened to kill them or pointed a gun at them. Queen testified those occasions were misunderstandings, people taking jokes or pranks the wrong way.
Most of those involved in the case met each other through drug use. Holsonbake used and sold cocaine and Despot frequently used methamphetamine, according to testimony.
Queen’s testimony will resume Tuesday morning.