BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — After two days of postponements, the trial of Matthew Queen resumed Thursday with Queen testifying he led law enforcement Tuesday to locations where he buried Micah Holsonbake’s remains.
“I would want to know if it was my son,” Queen said after making the startling revelation.
Prosecutor Eric Smith then began cross-examination, unleashing a blistering attack asking Queen if he’s a murderer, kidnapper, someone who points a gun at women. Queen said no.
Asked if he cut up a body and spread pieces of it across the county, Queen said that was true. What happened to Holsonbake was “horrific and gross,” Queen said, but he denied being a violent person.
When Smith asked if what happened Tuesday was a joke, Queen said “absolutely not,” and he wanted to “tell them what happened instead of the nightmare you sold.”
Later, Sgt. Chad Garrett testified he led a team that searched five locations. They found a single vertebra.
Both sides rested following Garret’s testimony.
Brehmer and the attorneys meet Friday to prepare jury instructions, and closing arguments will be held Monday.
Queen, 45, and Baylee Despot, his ex-girlfriend, are accused of questioning Holsonbake in late March 2018 over 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.
Facing dozens of charges — including torture, murder, kidnapping and numerous gun-related offenses — Queen faces 50 years to life if convicted of everything.
On Monday, the first day Queen testified, he told the jury Holsonbake pointed a gun at him after he made a joke about Holsonbake’s sex life. Despot entered the room and, when Holsonbake turned the gun on her, Queen tackled him, according to his testimony.
As they wrestled, Despot dropped a dumbbell on Holsonbake’s head, killing him, Queen said.
Queen asked friend Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele to use his garage. Queen said he and Despot brought the body there, dismembered it and got rid of the remains, according to his testimony.
He said Vandecasteele had no knowledge of what they were doing.
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.
A short time after Holsonbake’s death, Queen testified, Despot left because she was afraid they were going to get caught. She tried to get him to go, too, but Queen said he told her he couldn’t leave because he had children, a mortgage and career.
Smith and Queen engaged in multiple intense exchanges Thursday morning, Smith at times expressing incredulity at Queen’s responses or tinging questions with sarcasm.
For the most part, Queen kept his composure, raising his voice on occasion, other times laughing.
As Smith delivered a barrage of questions about Queen illegally manufacturing AR-15 rifles with parts bought online, Queen repeatedly denied he sold firearms. He said Despot attempted to sell some.
“Is this something that you do, that just in normal course of your life, that you assume no fault in anything but blame everyone else?” Smith asked “Is that a fair assessment of you?”
“Absolutely not,” Queen said. “I’m pretty sure I got up here and took blame for everything I’ve done.”
Displayed in court were text exchanges between Queen and Despot which the prosecutor said showed Queen tried to sell firearms. He also referred to the testimony of Sara Wedemeyer, who said Queen gave someone a gun in exchange for money to pay his mortgage.
Law enforcement seized five AR-style rifles from Queen. Smith said the evidence shows Queen assembled more rifles than that and asked what happened to them.
Other than two guns Despot took with her, they’re all accounted for, Queen said.
When he began assembling guns, Queen said, the plan was for his sons to fire the weapons at their grandfather’s home in New Mexico. They were “family guns,” he said.
“So you allowed your children to handle unregistered . . . assault weapons? That’s your family endeavor?” Smith asked.
Queen said his children never held the guns. When they got older, he would have given the guns to them.
As cross-examination continued, Queen denied threatening Megan Farmer or Caleb Seiler at gunpoint. Both have testified Queen, on separate occasions, took them to locations where he questioned them at gunpoint.
Queen explained the situations as misunderstood pranks. In Seiler’s case, the weapon was an imitation firearm, and when he took Farmer to an orchard he waved around a model AR-15 incapable of firing.
When Holsonbake disappeared, Queen sent texts, made comments on Facebook and spoke over the phone about any number of people who may be involved, according to multiple documents Smith displayed on a projector screen.
He suggested cartel involvement. He said maybe it was Hells Angels. He pointed the finger at a man known as “LA Mike.”
Yet the entire time he knew, Smith said, exactly what had happened to Holsonbake.
“So again, everyone else gets the blame except Matthew Queen. Is that correct?” Smith asked.
Queen said yes.
Smith asked him about cutting off Holsonbake’s arm. Queen said Despot cut off the arms and head, he removed the legs.
Asked what he thought while sawing through the leg, Queen began crying and said, “I thought it was (expletive) disgusting.”
The prosecutor went on to ask what happened to the dumbbell, the gun Holsonbake allegedly had, Holsonbake’s cellphone. Queen said some items were thrown in the trash and he took law enforcement to where he dumped others.
Queen acknowledged no one else’s testimony supports his story. He maintained he was telling the truth.
Police and human trafficking
During cross-examination, Smith displayed numerous social media posts Queen and played audio recordings where he accuses Bakersfield police of protecting a group of people — “rich doctors and gang bangers” — who drug and sexually assault girls. In one message, Queen says there is a house where rapes and kidnappings occur guarded by police.
“Everybody thinks im loosing (sic) my mind,” Queen wrote.
Referring to that message, Smith asked if this ring of crooked police wasn’t just something in his head. How come no one else knows about it?
Queen testified other people know but they don’t speak up.
“I’ve heard a lot of stories about the notorious BPD,” he said.
In another message, Queen claimed he rescued Despot from a dangerous crowd. Some people she hung out with were involved in rapes, he said. Despot herself had been a victim of a sexual assault.
Proceedings were delayed Tuesday after Superior Court Judge Charles R. Brehmer said he needed to discuss certain matters with attorneys, and again on Wednesday when Queen appeared in court with facial injuries.
Brehmer did not reveal how Queen became injured. Queen testified it did not occur while leading law enforcement to the search areas.