Man pleads no contest in ‘Bakersfield 3’ case, agrees to testify against co-defendant Matthew Queen

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man whose garage is believed to have been the scene of the alleged torture slaying of “Bakersfield 3” member Micah Holsonbake accepted a plea deal Wednesday in which he agreed to testify at the trial of co-defendant Matthew Queen.

Matthew Tyler 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. He also admitted to a prior strike for a robbery he committed in Washington.

Prosecutors say Vandecasteele’s garage was used by Queen, 45, and Baylee Despot to question Holsonbake about a gun they believed he stole. Queen and Despot are accused of binding Holsonbake with zip ties then torturing and killing him.

The killing allegedly happened in March 2018. Holsonbake’s severed arm was found months later in the Kern River, and his skull was recovered last month east of the overflow parking lot of Pyle’s Boys Camp.

Holsonbake’s parents, Cheryl and Lance Holsonbake, said after Wednesday’s hearing they want to know more about what happened to their son — but also dread hearing the details.

Adding to their anxiety is never knowing when they’ll learn another part of their son has been found.

“We want to bring Micah home, but bringing him home one piece at a time is just unbearable, and it could last for years,” Lance Holsonbake said. “Because every time there’s something else found it’s a good thing, but it’s also a very difficult thing.”

According to police, Vandecasteele admitted Despot and Queen asked to use his garage to question Holsonbake. He told police Despot, Queen’s former girlfriend, entered the house twice to grab items she took back to the garage. The items were a pair of scissors and a paring knife.

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, Queen returned to his house and asked for help disposing of something, Vandecasteele told the detective. There was a large covered black tub — big enough to hold a body — in the back of Queen’s vehicle, Vandecasteele said according to the detective.

Both Despot and Queen are charged with torture, murder and other offenses. Additionally, Queen faces dozens of firearm-related offenses and is accused of kidnapping and threatening others.

Queen is set for trial next month but the case will likely be postponed.

Despot disappeared in April 2018.

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 Kulstad, the third person, was shot and killed in southwest Bakersfield on April 8, 2018. No arrests have been made in his killing.

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

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