BASS LAKE — Testimony in the murder trial of George Taylor-Windsor continued today in Bass Lake Superior Court as the prosecution wrapped up its case in chief.
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.
Defense attorney Craig Collins continued his cross-examination of Reid Kallenberg, the driver of the Ford F250 who suffered multiple stab wounds in the attack by Taylor-Windsor.
Referring back to Kallenberg’s assertion on the stand yesterday that the defendant had said he wanted to kill his ex-wife, Collins asked why Kallenberg has never told law enforcement about the alleged remark. The witness said it was something he told friends after days in the hospital, but had never repeated to any of the investigators.
Collins also asked Kallenberg whether or not he had been arguing with Jessica on the drive down from Bass Lake, something that had been testified to previously by Mike Ross, the fourth occupant of the truck. Kallenberg denied that the two had been arguing.
The witness was asked about what happened when he and the defendant got out of the truck after the accident on Highway 41. Kallenberg said that as the two men were struggling, he remembered hearing the sound of “something like metal hitting the concrete,” but never saw anything lying in the roadway that would have made the sound.
When asked about his impressions of Mike Ross, Kallenberg said “Mike was a hothead who seemed like he wanted to prove himself and wanted everyone to respect him and his opinions.” Ross is currently behind bars in Florida on unrelated charges, but was transported to Madera County to testify in this trial.
Collins asked Kallenberg what his mindset was before leaving the chalet in Bass Lake and heading for the casino.
“It wasn’t a good state of mind,” he answered. “I was stressed; not having a job. I had a bad feeling about the whole trip down the mountain, but I didn’t suspect anything like what happened.”
“So you told law enforcement that you were ‘biding your time’ at the chalet, is that right?” asked Collins
“In my mind, I was wasting my time, but hoping for a job in the next 24 hours, or something that would give me a reason to stay,” said Kallenberg.
“So did you feel the effects of the meth you ingested that night?” asked Collins.
“Yes,” answered Kallenberg. “I was alert in a meth-induced state of mind. Overly cautious, overly wary and stressed. My frame of mind is different today than last year. My state of mind and body has forever changed since November 15, 2016.”
During re-direct, prosecutor John Baker asked Kallenberg to elaborate on that statement.
“My right side has physically changed, my mind, the whole way I feel and look at everyday life has been altered by the nature of the attack and how unprovoked it was. The defendant didn’t appear to me as a threat or a bad person who would ever do something like that. I feel uncomfortable having people behind me, and have thoughts of being attacked multiple times a day.”
Before the testimony of the doctor who performed the autopsy, and outside the presence of the jury, the prosecution asked the judge to have a photo of Jessica Nelson’s injuries edited to obscure a tattoo that said “I am evil, I am impure, I am a monster, but I am so much more,” arguing that it lent itself to character evidence and should not be shown to the jury.
The judge disagreed, saying it was just a tattoo, and Dr. Mark Super, Forensic Pathologist for the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, took the stand.
Dr. Super described the 20 different stab wounds caused by what he said were 15 separate thrusts of the knife. Some were “superficial,” and others as deep as 5 to 6 inches, with one hitting the aorta.
He also noted the groupings of needle “track marks” on her arms, located on both the front and back of the arms and in the crook of the elbow.
Cassandra Margrey, who had been romantically involved with Taylor-Windsor since August 2016, was the final witness of the day. Margrey testified on Apr. 27, and returned to the stand today to identify Mike Ross as an acquaintance of the defendant who had gone with the couple to the casino in Coarsegold on at least one occasion.
“I didn’t like him,” said Margrey. “He rode in the back seat, and talked about drugs all the way there and all the way back.”
With that, the prosecution rested its case, and the defense asked the court to reduce the charges from premeditated murder to second degree murder.
“Both Ross and Kallenberg said this was ‘out of the blue,’ so it’s clear there was no premeditation,” Collins told the judge.
Prosecutor John Baker called it a “cold, calculated decision to kill. This was not one stabbing, there is evidence of at least 19 stab wounds — 15 to Jessica and 4 to Reid. Premeditation comes in over and over and over again.”
Judge Charles Wieland denied the motion to reduce the charges, saying “there were a series of points in time that have been testified to where there was more than enough time to support the theory of the case by the prosecution. The witnesses said their perception was that it was ‘out of the blue,’ but their perception is not mine. For the purposes of premeditation, there is no stopwatch.”
On Wednesday, George Taylor-Windsor will have a chance to tell his side of the story. The defendant is expected to take the stand, and there has been no indication that any other witnesses will be called by the defense.
Taylor-Windsor faces 30 years to life if convicted on the charges, and remains behind bars on a $3.1 million bond.