Crime

‘It was frightening and powerful,’ witness says of alleged Oakhurst stabbing spree

A man from Auburn, stabbed multiple times during an accused killer’s rampage inside a truck north of Oakhurst last November, was called to the stand in Bass Lake Monday and gave chilling testimony about the night of the attack.

Reid Kallenberg was the driver and owner of a Ford F250 involved in last year’s death of 23-year-old Jessica Nelson, allegedly at the hand, and blade, of 26-year-old George Taylor-Windsor.

As Kallenberg drove from a chalet at the Pines Resort to Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on Nov. 15 around 10:30 p.m., Taylor-Windsor, seated in back, allegedly went on a furious stabbing spree that killed Nelson and injured Kallenberg as the truck crashed near Highway 41 and River Falls Road.

A fourth person in the truck, Michael Ross, jumped out and suffered only minor scrapes, according to his testimony last week.

Kallenberg, called to the stand Monday, told the jury that he was intimately - or romantically - involved with Nelson, a Foresthill resident who he’d known a few months.

As established by testimony from other witnesses in previous hearings, Kallenberg said he’d known Taylor-Windsor and Ross for less than two days, as all four people were in the Mountain Area searching for work in the tree cutting industry.

Kallenberg said before the fateful drive, as the group hung out at the Pines chalet, he ingested methamphetamine; a substance he’s used as recently as January when questioned by defense attorney Craig Collins in cross examination.

He said, when asked by lead prosecutor John Baker, that Taylor-Windsor had been talking about his ex-wife Maranda Windsor.

When asked to elaborate, Kallenberg’s testimony painted a picture touched on by prosecution in opening statements.

“He wasn’t happy with her,” Kallenberg said. “What stuck out to me was his remark that if he could, he would have killed her.”

Prosecution, with Baker and Paul Hornick as co-counsel, argue Taylor-Windsor’s alleged attack was fueled by rage when Windsor didn’t call him back that evening. Windsor testified as part of arrangements with her ex-husband, he had specific times to call her - on weekends - to keep in touch, and she was busy studying for nursing school when he called outside those allotted times. She also said the two had a contentious divorce, and she has sole custody of their son in Wyoming.

Collins, with co-counsel Katie Reed, instead claims Taylor-Windsor - expected to testify as early as this week - acted in self-defense when Kallenberg and Nelson, both users of methamphetamine, struck at him first. When questioned Monday, Kallenberg confirmed he was convicted in 2009 of two felonies for transportation and possession of a stolen firearm.

Kallenberg testified as the group left the chalet and traveled to the casino, though he was asked, Taylor-Windsor refused to dim his phone which was distracting Kallenberg on a “dark, curvy road.”

“I’ll never forget this,” Kallenberg added. “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.”

Kallenberg said he told Taylor-Windsor to tell his son he loves him, and that he’d see him as soon as possible. But then, only a few minutes later, Kallenberg testified that Taylor-Windsor snapped.

“It was like somebody being attacked by a swarm of bees,” Kallenberg said, saying Taylor-Windsor went from subdued to repeatedly striking Nelson within seconds. “It was frightening and powerful ... I thought he had been shocked by electricity or something. The way he reacted was amazing. It boggled my mind.”

Kallenberg testified, contrary to defense’s claims, that neither himself, Nelson, or Ross fought back against Taylor-Windsor’s alleged onslaught, as he stood over them in the back seat and stabbed both himself and Nelson in a downward motion. He said the truck crashed into a rocky hillside, and both he and Taylor-Windsor got out of the truck and faced off in a kind of wrestling grapple, where they slammed into the ground. Taylor-Windsor then ran off, Kallenberg said.

Last week, Dr. William Dominic, director of Community Regional Medical Center’s burn center and a surgeon of more than three decades, testified Kallenberg also suffered life-threatening wounds that fit the description of being hit with a knife or blade, including a punctured lung and cuts to his liver and diaphragm.

“I felt like I was on the brink of being unconscious, then dead,” Kallenberg said of how he struggled to stay awake and at Nelson’s side as law enforcement arrived.

Nelson died of some 11 stab wounds, according to earlier testimony from pathologists.

For a brief period Monday, attorneys barbs over the admissibility of a portion of Kallenberg’s testimony.

After the jury exited for an afternoon break, defense attorney Craig Collins contended, through California Evidence Code 352, the statement about Taylor-Windsor wanting to kill his ex-wife could create undue judicial prejudice. He also claimed Baker knew Kallenberg would give that answer beforehand, given how explicitly he phrased the question.

“I’ve been an attorney for a while, and I’ve never had anyone accuse me of that,” Baker said before Judge Charles Wieland. “I give you my word of honor, I had no idea what (Kallenberg) was going to say.”

Last week, similar codes were cited on whether or not testimony from Maranda Windsor could be included for the jury about her ex-husband’s tendency to get violent while drunk, and how he made a similar threat on her life that caused her to get a restraining order. Wieland ruled the jury wouldn’t hear those statements, given how Windsor also said Taylor-Windsor was working to clean up his act, the involved incidents had taken place many years ago, and he had acted politely the night of his alleged attack.

After a break, Wieland ruled Kallenberg’s testimony would remain on record, and there was no evidence Baker had acted unethically. Collins later apologized, saying he had acted out of anger. Baker accepted the apology with words of appreciation and the two shook hands, clearing up any legal issues.

Also called to the stand Monday was Daniella Romero, an identification technician or a kind of crime scene investigator for the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, and detective John Grayson.

Romero testified eight syringes, all with caps on them, and three knives, two of them sheathed, were found inside the truck. Defense has claimed Nelson stabbed Taylor-Windsor with a syringe, and that Kallenberg pulled a gun on him. No gun was found either in the truck or surrounding area by law enforcement, and no medical official yet called to testify said they saw puncture wounds on Taylor-Windsor, despite his repeated claims he was stabbed by a syringe.

Grayson said he was called to the crash, then visited the home of Paul and Kristine Ratchford on Whoyah Teh, a short distance from the wreck. Last week, the Ratchfords testified Taylor-Windsor came to their home around the time of the incident and was banging on their door, pleading to be let in as he said someone was trying to kill him.

After showing Taylor-Windsor a gun and telling him authorities were on their way, Taylor-Windsor left in anger, they said. A bloody knife, six inches in length, was also left on their doorstep which wasn’t there before Taylor-Windsor first arrived, the Ratchfords testified.

Baker read a statement from a DNA analyst Monday that through testing, Taylor-Windsor’s blood was eliminated as possibly being on the knife, but not Kallenberg’s. The analyst also said Nelson’s blood was on the blade, down to a one in 52 quintillion chance it wasn’t.

Cross examination of Kallenberg will continue Tuesday, and prosecution is expected to finish calling witnesses this week. Taylor-Windsor remains in Madera County Jail on $3.1 million bail. If convicted, he faces 37 years to life in prison.

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