BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Opening statements started Monday morning for the trial of Matthew Queen, the man accused of killing Micah Holsonbake, a member of what has become known as the Bakersfield 3.
In a case that’s haunted the streets of Bakersfield for years, answers to what happened to Micah Holsonbake may soon come to light.
Monday, prosecutors laid out evidence from phone calls, wiretaps, and surveillance videos that they say all point to Matthew Queen killing Micah Holsonbake. On the other hand, the defense foregoes photos, videos, or maps and instead says that by the end of this trial, the jury won’t believe Queen is responsible.
“That’s how they all knew each other. They knew each other because of manufacturing these assault weapons, of selling these assault weapons. The primary person being Matthew Queen," Prosecutor Eric Smith said.
Queen is facing 35 charges, including first degree murder, kidnapping, and a slew of weapons charges. Smith says every charge is just another step in the story of how Queen came to be accused in the death of Holsonbake.
According to prosecutors, Holsonbake, Baylee Despot, who was Queen’s ex-girlfriend, and Queen were all involved in the manufacturing and selling of illegal weapons including assault rifles since 2017 — a year before Holsonbake’s disappearance.
During that time, prosecutors said Queen liked to portray himself as a "boogeyman," often threatening those he was involved with.
The revelation of phone calls gathered through police wiretaps painted a picture of Queen.
“Normally you’d be dead, but I’m sparing your life so you can deliver Caleb to me,” according to audio from one of the wiretaps.
The prosecution shared evidence photos from the discovery of Holsonbake’s severed arm in the Kern River in 2018, claiming the black and orange rope used to tie the bag is the same rope found on Despot’s purse, which the prosecution claimed Queen delivered to her home with the rest of her things after Holsonbake’s disappearance.
Defense Counsel Timothy Hennessey kept his opening statements clear and short, stating this case wasn't a "special type of evil," but "a story about a sad and tragic group."
"By the end of this, you may not like Mr. Queen, you may even hate Mr. Queen. But you won't believe that he is responsible for Mr. Holsonbake's death," Hennessey said.
Even though Despot is charged as a co-conspirator, in this case, her whereabouts are still unknown at this time.
Witnesses testifying Monday included the lead investigator for the case as well as an acquaintance of the three, who testified to witnessing Queen threaten others when it came to weapons.
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