BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A judge decided Monday that Matthew Queen will stand trial for the murder of Micah Holsonbake, a member of the 'Bakersfield 3' who went missing back in 2018.
Queen is facing charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy, and torture, along with a slew of weapons charges. During the preliminary hearing, which began last week, witnesses and investigators testified to Queen's work assembling illegal AR-15-style weapons and his interactions with Holsonbake.
Prosecutors are arguing that Queen and Baylee Despot, another member of the 'Bakersfield 3', tortured and killed Holsonbake over an alleged stolen gun. Despot is also charged in this case but has not been seen since April 2018. A third person, Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele, is charged with kidnapping, conspiracy and manufacturing an assault weapon in this case.
Prosecutors argued that Queen and Despot zip-tied Holsonbake to a chair inside Vandacasteele's garage and tortured him to extract information.
According to witnesses in the preliminary hearing, Queen often attempted to intimidate people with guns and threats.
Court documents alleged that at one point, Queen previously kidnapped Holsonbake, drove him to an orchard, pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill him.
One witness testified that Queen would often play these actions off as a joke, but he believed Queen was serious about the threats.
Holsonbake and Despot are both members of the 'Bakersfield 3', a group of individuals who all knew each other and went missing around the same time. The third member, James Kulstad, was found shot and killed in his mother’s car in Southwest Bakersfield. There were no leads into who killed him.
In August of 2018, an arm was discovered in the Kern River in Hart Park. The coroner's office was able to identify the arm as belonging to Holsonbake and his missing person's investigation became a homicide investigation.
In May 2020, Queen and Despot were charged with Holsonbake's murder.