‘Bakersfield 3’ witness pleads no contest to felony gun charge

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A witness in the “Bakersfield 3” murder case has pleaded no contest to a felony gun charge.

Caleb Seiler, who testified at length earlier this year during the preliminary hearing of accused killer Matthew Queen, pleaded no contest Thursday to possession of a firearm by a felon and faces 16 months in prison at his Jan. 4 sentencing, prosecutors said.

In June, probation officers found a short-barreled AR-15 style rifle, two 9mm handgun frames, two silencers, ammunition and a high-capacity magazine in Seiler’s home.

Seiler, 32 at the time of his arrest, is a convicted felon and is prohibited from owning firearms or ammunition.

Under the plea agreement, five other gun-related charges and a misdemeanor drug charge were dismissed, according to court records.

Matthew Queen appears with counsel in this file image.

In May, Seiler testified that he, Queen and a third man, Micah Holsonbake, were involved in the illegal manufacture of AR-style rifles.

Queen is charged with torture and murder in Holsonbake’s death, which is believed to have occurred in March 2018. His severed arm was found months later in the Kern River, and and his skull was recovered in August east of the overflow parking lot of Pyle’s Boys Camp.

The rest of his body has not been found.

Seiler testified they sold some guns and kept others.

A closer look at the Bakersfield 3: What happened to Micah Holsonbake?
Micah Holsonbake

Seiler testified Queen and two other men once 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 his head and threatened to kill him, Seiler testified. It turned out to be a BB gun, he said.

Queen let him go after removing the batteries from his cellphone, Seiler said.

Other witnesses at the preliminary hearing also testified Queen had threatened them.

Also charged in Holsonbake’s death is Baylee Despot, who disappeared in 2018. It’s alleged she and Queen killed Holsonbake after questioning him over a stolen gun.

The garage prosecutors say was the scene of Holsonbake’s torture and slaying was owned by Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele.

Last month, Vandecasteele, 35, pleaded no contest to charges of being an accessory, false imprisonment and felony possession of a firearm in exchange for a four-year prison term. Vandecasteele agreed to testify at Queen’s trial.

Police say Vandecasteele admitted Despot and Queen had asked to use his garage to question Holsonbake, and that Despot, Queen’s former girlfriend, grabbed a pair of scissors and a paring knife and took them into the garage.

She later entered the house shaking and “looking pale as a ghost,” Vandecasteele told detectives, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing.

Despot later entered the house shaking and “looking pale as a ghost,” Vandecasteele said according to testimony from a detective at Queen’s preliminary hearing.

The next day, Vandecasteele told detectives, Queen returned to his house and asked for help disposing of something. He said Queen had a large black tub, big enough to hold a body, in the pickup.

Vandecasteele said he felt sick from drug use and didn’t go with Queen, according to testimony.

Queen is due back in court Feb. 18.

Holsonbake, Despot and James Kulstad became known as the Bakersfield 3 after they went missing or were killed within two months of each other in 2018.

Kulstad was shot and killed in southwest Bakersfield on April 8, 2018. There have been no arrests.

Anyone with information regarding these cases is asked to call Secret Witness at 661-322-4040.

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