Evidence will show whether George Taylor-Windsor was motivated by rage or self-defense when he stabbed two people, one of them fatally, inside a truck north of Oakhurst last November after opening statements and witness testimony were given this week in Bass Lake.
For lead prosecutor John Baker, Taylor-Windsor, 26, was fueled by fury when he went on a stabbing spree around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 15 that killed Jessica Nelson, 23 of Foresthill, and severely injured driver Reid Kallenberg.
“You won’t hear from Jessica Nelson in this case because she’s dead,” Baker told the jury Monday. “What you will hear about is the intensity of the screaming, and the violence that took place.”
Taylor-Windsor, using a six-inch blade, stabbed Nelson 11 times, with superficial cuts mostly to the back of her head and shoulders, Baker said as he pointed to an autopsy photo, a photo one juror refused to look at after giving it an initial glance.
“Evidence will show he buried his knife up to its hilt,” Baker said.
Kallenberg, driving a Ford F250 pickup from Bass Lake to Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino with Nelson and a man named Mike Ross in the front passenger seat, also suffered severe injuries in the attack, Baker said, including stab wounds, fractured ribs and punctured lungs.
The truck crashed into a rocky hillside on Highway 41 near River Falls Road, prompting response by emergency personnel and law enforcement. Cristian Dunkle, headed home from his shift at Tenaya Lodge, was the first person who stopped at the crash.
Called to the witness stand Tuesday, Dunkle said Kallenberg spoke to him and appeared to be injured.
“He told me ‘get help, we’ve been attacked,’” Dunkle said.
Dunkle said he saw someone hop over the guard rail and that he feared for his safety, given Kallenberg’s possible injuries and seeing that person jump over the rail.
In previous hearings, Kallenberg testified Taylor-Windsor was in touch by phone with a romantic interest, possibly the mother of his son, which may have led to his alleged rampage.
Katie Reed, with fellow defense attorney Craig Collins of the Madera law firm of Richard A. Ciummo & Associates, argued instead that Kallenberg and Nelson attacked Taylor-Windsor, forcing him to defend his life.
Reed described how the morning of Nov. 15, Taylor-Windsor, Kallenberg, Nelson, and others went to breakfast, hopefully to meet the boss of a company that would hire them for tree cutting work in the Mountain Area.
Kallenberg had recently arrived from Auburn, while Taylor-Windsor recently moved from Wyoming to California.
She said after the boss failed to arrive, the group went back to a chalet at Bass Lake where things were “tense,” and some people, including Kallenberg and Nelson, were ingesting drugs, likely methamphetamine.
As Taylor-Windsor, Kallenberg, Nelson, and Ross traveled to the casino, Reed said at some point, Kallenberg turned around and pointed a gun at her client.
Taylor-Windsor hit the gun away, Reed said, but Nelson managed to inject him with a syringe.
“George is afraid, he knows he’s being attacked,” Reed said. “So he pulls out a knife and strikes back.”
Reed added that evidence would show Nelson had two knives and a syringe on her person, as well as bolt cutters in her jacket.
“You will hear about the injuries to Jessica Nelson,” Reed told the jury. “You will hear about the injuries to Reid Kallenberg. You will hear how George Taylor-Windsor caused them. We’re not disputing that. However, at the end of the trial, after all the evidence is presented, we believe you will see George acted in reasonable self-defense, and find him not guilty.”
Baker, during his statement, said though there were nine syringes in the truck, they all had caps on them, and multiple members of law enforcement did not find evidence of injection marks on Taylor-Windsor.
The case continues inside the Madera Superior Court, Bass Lake Division. It is expected to last between two to three weeks.
Taylor-Windsor has been charged with murder and attempted murder. If convicted, he faces life in prison.