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Guilty verdict handed down in murder case

George Taylor-Windsor, 26, was found guilty of first degree murder and second degree attempted murder Wednesday in the Bass Lake courthouse. He will face up to 38 years to life in prison when sentenced June 8.
George Taylor-Windsor, 26, was found guilty of first degree murder and second degree attempted murder Wednesday in the Bass Lake courthouse. He will face up to 38 years to life in prison when sentenced June 8.

George Taylor-Windsor was found guilty on all counts last week for a stabbing spree that killed a 23-year-old woman and left a man with life-threatening injuries inside a truck north of Oakhurst.

Taylor-Windsor, 26 and a recent resident of California, will face up to 38 years to life in prison when sentenced June 8 for the first degree murder of Jessica Nelson, and second degree attempted murder of Reid Kallenberg the night of Nov. 15, 2016. Both convictions included special allegations for using a deadly weapon, in this case his own six-inch blade.

After an eight-day trial, the jury took nearly two full days to deliberate Taylor-Windsor’s case inside the Bass Lake Division of Madera County Superior Court.

District Attorney David Linn called the verdict a success for public safety.

“This means that we will not allow people to come into our community and commit murders,” Linn said. “We have to protect the safety of Madera County and Eastern Madera County, and that’s what this verdict means, the critical importance of protecting the safety of our residents. (Taylor-Windsor) will likely spend a great number of years in prison, if not the rest of his life.”

Members of Nelson’s family were seen sobbing and embracing jurors, and thanking lead prosecutor John Baker and Linn outside the courtroom. They did not wish to comment.

Taylor-Windsor, wearing a maroon button up shirt and dark slacks, showed little emotion as the verdict was read. His defense attorney, Craig Collins, said he would file an appeal.

On Nov. 15, Taylor-Windsor, Nelson, Kallenberg, and another man, Michael Ross, were traveling to Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino from a chalet at The Pines Resort in Bass Lake.

Taylor-Windsor and the other three had relocated to Eastern Madera County to get a job in the tree cutting industry, in high demand given the state’s ongoing tree mortality crisis. They all knew each other less than two days.

As they headed to the casino, Taylor-Windsor attempted to check in on his son with his ex-wife in Wyoming, on whom he had made previous death threats, and she didn’t call him back.

“I’ll never forget this,” Kallenberg testified. “He said, ‘what would you say to your son in your last email.’ It was odd to me. I’m not a father, but I couldn’t understand why he said it’d be the last one.”

Witnesses ,including Kallenberg and Ross, said that caused Taylor-Windsor to “snap,” and go on a stabbing rampage they described as “frightening and powerful,” and “not human.”

Pathologists testified Nelson was stabbed 15 to 17 times in Taylor-Windsor’s onslaught, mostly in the back and near her head, causing her death. Kallenberg was stabbed three to five times, and suffered severe injuries including punctured lungs and broken ribs.

Collins and defense associate Katie Reed attempted to show Taylor-Windsor acted in self-defense, but the jury - comprised of six men and six women - wasn’t swayed.

One juror said after the hearing ended Wednesday afternoon that they relied largely on the testimony of Ross, who took the stand in a red jumpsuit due to unrelated criminal charges in Florida, to decide Taylor-Windsor’s fate.

“We had them come in and read his entire testimony, like hundreds of pages,” the juror said. “He was the key.”

The jury’s foreperson said they had done their job to ensure justice was served.

“This jury was totally dialed in,” the foreperson said. “We did what we needed to do, we asked a lot of questions and had a lot of deliberations. None of us took this lightly.”

But, the foreperson added, the case had no winner.

“There’s no winner here,” they said. “No one wins, because (Nelson) is dead.”

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