BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The four boys were playing in the Kern River at Hart Park the evening of Aug. 19, 2018.
Wrestling and goofing around, they noticed something large moving in the water. The object, a bag, touched the leg of Alejandro Cedeno, 16 at the time.
Cedeno, now 20, said they brought it to shore. It was heavy. Cedeno said he wondered if something valuable was inside.
He dumped the bag. Inside was a sweater that had been wrapped around another object.
“That’s when I saw it’s an arm because I see fingers,” Cedeno testified Thursday on the fourth day of the murder trial of Matthew Queen.
The severely decomposed limb was later identified as belonging to Micah Holsonbake, whom Queen and his ex-girlfriend are accused of torturing and killing in late March 2018.
Cheryl Holsonbake, Holsonbake’s mother, cried and hugged others in the hallway after the teen testified.
Queen, 45, and Baylee Despot are both charged in Holsonbake’s death, and Queen faces numerous other charges — including kidnapping and numerous gun-related offenses — that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.
Queen and Holsonbake fabricated AR-style rifles, prosecutors said. It’s alleged Holsonbake was killed for either stealing a gun from Queen or swapping one with a weapon that had a faulty firing pin.
Despot disappeared shortly after Holsonbake. She has not been heard from.
After the discovery in the river, no other parts of Holsonbake turned up until last summer, when his skull was found in a bag in the river.
Rubit Martinez, 12, told the court she was playing in Lake Ming with a cousin. She was underwater looking for clams when she touched a bag.
She dragged it to shore. It smelled bad.
Martinez testified she told adults what she found and brought the bag over.
Silvano Hernandez-Velasco testified he opened the red and black cloth bag with the word “Bilt” on it.
“When I opened the bag the first thing I saw was the cranial area, this part right here, of a skull,” Hernandez-Velasco said as he touched part of his face.
Photos of the arm and skull were displayed in court. The skull was in several pieces, the lower jaw detached, teeth missing.
Authorities have said the skull was identified as Holsonbake’s. The rest of his remains have not been found.
Thursday saw the return of Kassidy Humphrey, a witness who briefly testified Wednesday morning, was ordered to return in the afternoon but failed to show.
The ex-girlfriend of Caleb Seiler, Humphrey testified she was in bed with Seiler when he was allegedly kidnapped, but she was groggy from just waking up and had recently used drugs. She said she didn’t remember details.
Humphrey said anything she told police afterward was information provided by Seiler, whom she has called a pathological liar.
Earlier this week, Seiler testified three men entered the room where he was staying the morning of Jan. 17, 2019, and forced him to get dressed and get in a pickup. Seiler said one of the men, Queen, was armed with a gun and threatened to kill him. He said Queen accused him of telling police about Queen’s gun safe.
The two had previously put together firearms, Seiler testified. Queen pointed the gun at him it pulled the trigger, Seiler said. It was a BB gun. Queen laughed, he said.
Seiler denied talking with law enforcement. Queen eventually let him go, he said, and he left town soon afterward because he was afraid he’d be killed.
After her initial testimony Wednesday, Humphrey said she couldn’t return in the afternoon because she had a job interview. Judge Charles R. Brehmer gave her a couple options, and when she said neither worked he ordered her to return at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
She didn’t show and Brehmer issued a warrant for her arrest.
The warrant was withdrawn after she took the witness stand Thursday.
Prosecutor Eric Smith introduced some humor in the proceedings with his first question.
“Since we’re all wondering, did you get the job?” he asked.
Humphrey said she has been called back for a second interview. When she finished testifying, Brehmer wished her luck.
Bakersfield police Sgt. Chad Garrett testified about a staged photo found on Queen’s electronic devices which he said was sent to other people connected to the case, including Seiler. The image was displayed on a projector screen.
The photo shows a person leaning over a bathtub. The back of the person’s head has a red substance on it which Garrett testified simulated a gunshot wound. There was blood splatter in the tub, and a spent brass shell casing.
Garrett said the person in the photo is Despot, the scene arranged to make it appear she had been killed. He identified items around her neck as a necklace and a red collar similar to a dog collar.
The trial continues Friday morning.