BASS LAKE — In the fifth day of testimony in the George Taylor-Windsor murder trial in Bass Lake Superior Court, the jury heard from the crime scene investigator, one of the detectives who investigated the killing, and the man who survived multiple stab wounds during the attack.
Taylor-Windsor, 26, is charged with murder in the death of Jessica Nelson, 23, of Foresthill, Calif., and with attempted murder in the stabbing of Reid Kallenberg. Taylor-Windsor is claiming self-defense after being stabbed with a syringe and having a gun pointed at him.
The incident took place on Nov. 15, 2016, on Highway 41 just north of Oakhurst, in Kallenberg’s Ford F250 pickup.
Daniela Romero is an Identification Technician with the Madera County Sheriff’s Office. She took photos and measurements and documented the evidence in the Ford F-250 pickup on Nov. 21, in the secured yard at the Oakhurst Substation.
Romero said she first took exterior photos and examined the contents of the bed of the truck and the toolbox. She then began photographing and collecting evidence inside the truck.
The jury was shown dozens of photos of blood spatter and smears inside the front seat of the vehicle. They also saw photos of three knives. Romero described one as a throwing knife, which was located on the floor of the passenger side. A second, larger knife inside a sheath was found inside a red bag on the floorboard of the backseat. A machete, also in a sheath, was laying on top of the red bag, Romero said.
Another item examined and collected by Romero was described as a blue plastic pencil box containing narcotics paraphernalia, including a two spoons, a broken glass pipe, two pieces of foil, three pieces of plastic straw, Zig Zag rolling papers, a makeup brush and eyeliner pencil, and seven syringes. She said that all seven of the syringes had their caps in place when they were discovered.
Two more items of evidence collected were a black vest – one pocket containing a pair of bolt cutters – and a black headset that appeared to have a fingerprint in blood.
When asked by prosecutor John Baker if she had located any guns or ammunition in her search of the vehicle, Romero said no.
Madera County Sheriff’s Detective John Grayson was called out on the night of the incident, and testified that after responding to the scene of the accident on Highway 41, he had gone to the Ratchford home on Whoyah Teh. The Ratchfords testified last week that the defendant came to their home shortly before 11 p.m. on the night of the stabbing, banging on the door and asking to be let in.
Det. Grayson said that when he arrived at the home, the front of the home had been cordoned off with crime scene tape, and there was a bloody knife on the porch just outside the front door.
He told the jury that he had looked for any puncture wounds on the defendant after being advised that Taylor-Windsor was saying he had been stabbed with a syringe. Grayson said he was unable to find any mark on the defendant that would have resulted from his description of an attack.
Reid Kallenberg was the next to testify. Kallenberg was the driver of the Ford F250 on the night of the incident, and required two surgeries after suffering numerous deep stab wounds, one of which punctured a lung.
Kallenberg, who said he is a certified arborist and climber, told the jury he had come to the area the day before to find work with one of the companies removing hazard trees. He arrived with Jessica Nelson, whom he had been dating for a few months, and a man named Keith, who had told him about all the tree jobs in the area. They were all staying in a chalet at The Pines Resort. He and Jessica had met Taylor-Windsor and another man in search of a job — Mike Ross — just 30 hours before the stabbing, he said.
After an evening during which Kallenberg admitted to having snorted methamphetamine and smoking marijuana, the four were headed to the casino in Coarsegold. Kallenberg said he was driving, Jessica was in the middle of the front seat, Mike Ross was on the passenger side, and Taylor-Windsor was in the back seat.
Kallenberg told the jury that Taylor-Windsor was trying to call his ex-wife Maranda Windsor, wanting to speak to their son. He also said that during a conversation earlier in the chalet, the defendant had made a comment about his ex-wife, saying, “If I could have, I would have killed her.” He described the defendant as “sad and frustrated” over the situation with his son.
Kallenberg said it was a dark night, and he was unfamiliar with the road. The light from the cell phone was hindering his ability to drive, and he repeatedly asked Taylor-Windsor, “sternly but politely,” to dim it or shut it off. His requests went unanswered, he said, and the defendant began asking him strange questions such as “What would you say to your son in your last email?” That was odd, said Kallenberg.
“I’m not a father, but I couldn’t understand why it would be the last email. I remember suggesting something like, ‘Tell him you love him and you’ll be there to see him as soon as you can.'”
Kallenberg said he was stressed because he was worried about running out of gas, and worried about getting arrested for driving on a suspended license. Jessica knew this, he said, and reached over to grab his hand and squeeze it.
Just moments later, said Kallenberg, there was a motion from the back seat, “very frightening and powerful.”
“At first I couldn’t make sense of it,” he said. “It reminded me of someone being attacked by a swarm of bees, or shocked by electricity. I thought he was hitting Mike. I didn’t see a knife. Then I saw him strike Jessica.”
Kallenberg demonstrated for the jury the position of Taylor-Windsor as the blows rained down, saying he was standing with his back against the roof of the truck, striking down again and again.
“Then I realized it wasn’t a fist. I felt it in my neck and shoulder, and that’s what made it clear,” said Kallenberg. “Jessica was hit first and was hit the most. She was in the middle. She was in a bad place.”
Kallenberg says Jessica wasn’t doing anything or saying anything, she just lurched forward. At one point, he said he reached into the back to try and stop the attack, but realized he was going to have to stop the truck.
“The road was treacherous and there wasn’t much room for error in either lane,” he said. “I started hitting the brakes, hoping for a turnout or a shoulder, but I came into contact with the solid rock wall.”
Once the truck stopped, Kallenberg said he realized the dome light was on and Mike Ross was gone.
“There was no way he exited after I stopped, there was a rock wall right up against the truck.”
Kallenberg said he then started grabbing at the handle to get the door open, finally managing after being tangled up in the seat belt, and Taylor-Windsor came out of the back seat.
“We went hands on shoulders in the middle of the road, like wrestlers starting out, and I thought — I’m going to get a knife in the stomach.” After a brief struggle, the defendant took off down the road towards Oakhurst, said Kallenberg, who returned to the truck to check on Jessica.
“I thought she was still alive and had a chance. I knew I was in bad shape, but she was worse.” He set her upright and felt for a pulse, but she wasn’t breathing, he said.
Feeling queasy and ready to pass out, Kallenberg said he asked a couple who drove up to call 911. Then a phone rang in the truck. It was Taylor-Windsor’s phone, and his ex-wife “Mandy” calling back.
“I answered and told her George just stabbed me and my friend and we’re hurt bad.” Kallenberg said he tried to call 911 from the phone, but got a recording, so he threw the phone against the windshield.
When asked by prosecutor John Baker if there was a gun or any ammunition in the truck, Kallenberg said no. He also denied that anyone had made any aggressive moves toward the defendant, or pointed a gun at him or stabbed him with a syringe, before Taylor-Windsor began stabbing them.
On cross examination, defense attorney Craig Collins questioned Kallenberg about his drug and alcohol use. The witness said he hadn’t had a drink since Placer County put a unit on his ankle that tests for alcohol through his sweat, but that he had “dabbled a little with meth” in the month of January.
When asked if he had smoked pot on the day of the incident, Kallenberg said yes, and also testified that he had not seen the defendant using any drugs that day, “not that I noticed or payed attention to.”
There was also testimony that Kallenberg had a felony conviction from 2009 for possession of a stolen firearm and unlawful transporting of a firearm.
Taylor-Windsor has been behind bars since his arrest on Nov. 16, 2016, is being held in the Madera County Jail on a $3.1 million bond. He faces 30 years to life if convicted.