BASS LAKE — George Taylor-Windsor, 26, was in Bass Lake Superior Court today for his preliminary hearing on charges of murder and attempted murder in the Nov. 15 death of Jessica Nelson and the stabbing of Reid Kallenberg.
Taylor-Windsor was arraigned on Nov. 17, and pleaded not guilty on all charges.
Today in court, Kallenberg took the stand and said that he had arrived in the Bass Lake area the evening before with Jessica, 23, of Foresthill, Calif., and two other men, hoping to find work with one of the companies taking down the dead trees in the area. That’s when he met Taylor-Windsor, he said — just 24 hours before the incident.
After spending the day of Nov. 15 at a chalet at the Pines Resort, it was decided that he, Jessica, Taylor-Windsor, and another man referred to as “Florida,” would head for the casino “for a change of scenery.” Although Kallenberg said he had no money, he was going to drive his Ford F250 and someone else would come up with gas money.
Kallenberg admitted to “ingesting meth” in the hours before the group left for the casino, and also to smoking marijuana.
He testified that he was driving, Jessica was in the middle of the front bench seat, and “Florida” was in the right front, with Taylor-Windsor sitting in the back seat, using his cell phone, which Kallenberg said was irritating him due to the bright light interfering with his driving.
He said that Taylor-Windsor ignored his request to dim the light, and then left a voice message for the mother of his child, telling her not to ignore him, and to call back. He also testified that Taylor-Windsor then asked the group, “What would your write in your last email to your son?” which he found very strange.
As the Ford headed down into Oakhurst on Highway 41 from Road 222, Kallenberg says Taylor-Windsor was mumbling in the back seat, and suddenly raised up and began stabbing at everyone in the front seat.
“Things got violent, seemingly out of nowhere,” he told the court.
According to Dr. Mark Super, who performed the autopsy on Jessica Nelson, she suffered 17 separate stab wounds to her left upper back, left cheek and the back of the neck, with four of those wounds being potentially fatal.
Kallenberg said he then yelled, “Stop! Stop! What are you doing?” and tried to comprehend what was happening while attempting to maintain control of the vehicle. He realized he needed to stop, but in that moment, crashed into the rock wall on the right side of the road.
He said the stabbing continued after they crashed, and that somehow “Florida” had gotten out of the truck and “vanished.” He then tried to protect Jessica, who was seatbelted in, he told the court. But Taylor-Windsor was now out of the truck, and the two grabbed hold of each other and fell to the ground. He heard the sound of the knife hitting the concrete, and said Taylor-Windsor then took off on foot, headed south on Highway 41.
Kallenberg said he knew he was wounded because he could hear his own wheezing sounds and feel the blood. He removed his shirt in court to show five stab wounds, and a large 10-inch surgical scar.
By this time, EMS has arrived at scene and they transported Kallenberg to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, where he spent over a week recovering from what he said was a slashed diaphram and liver, and a punctured lung, requiring three surgeries.
Prosecutor John Baker called Paul Ratchford to the stand, and he testified that at about 10:45 p.m. on the night of the homicide, a man had come banging at his door on Whoyah Teh just off River Falls Road, and tried repeatedly to gain entry to the house, yelling that someone was trying to kill him.
“He looked disoriented and in distress, but I wasn’t sure he was alone, so we told him we would call 911,” said Ratchford, whose wife made the call. The witness says the man was hunched over and appeared to be in pain.
Ratchford said they retrieved the handgun they use for defense of their home, and it was only at that point that the man stopped trying to get into the house and left.
Ratchford identified Taylor-Windsor in court as the man who was banging at the door, and said that after the man left the front porch, he ripped a piece of railing from the walkway in front of their house, and appeared to be angry.
Ratchford testified that his wife then looked out the window and saw a knife laying on the stoop. Sierra Ambulance responded to the scene, followed by Sheriff’s deputies who took Taylor-Windsor into custody.
Defense attorney Craig Collins told the court that his theory of the case is that Kallenberg was actually the aggressor, and had attacked Taylor-Windsor “with the intent to rob or kill my client.”
The defense called no witnesses, and argued that no evidence of premeditation had been presented, and the appropriate charge would be second degree murder.
The judge disagreed and Taylor-Windsor was held to answer on all the counts charged in the original complaint, including first degree murder and attempted murder. If convicted he faces 37-years-to-life in prison.
The defendant will be back in court on Dec. 13 for arraignment on the charges, and District Attorney David Linn anticipates the trial will start some time in February 2017. Meanwhile, Taylor-Windsor remains behind bars.
“This is not a complicated case,” said Linn. “I don’t anticipate us in any way plea bargaining that significantly. We will prosecute this case to the fullest extent that we can prosecute under the law.”