Noonkester murder trial underway with opening statements


RED BLUFF, Calif. - The murder trial of a Tehama County man accused of killing his ex-wife and her father has begun.

Jurors were selected Wednesday morning for the murder trial of 35-year-old John Noonkester.

He is accused of shooting and killing his ex-wife and her father in July 2015.

Family and friends of Kimberlee Thomas and her father Keith filled the courtroom.

Prosecution and defense gave their opening statements.

Prosecutor James Waugh said Noonkester and Thomas were in the middle of a divorce in 2015.

He said Noonkester had failed to obey a court order to return their two daughters on July 1, 2015.

The next day, the two had agreed to meet at the Little Country Store in Lake California.

Surveillance video was shown by prosecution of the shooting.

Waugh said during an argument between Noonkester and his former father-in-law, Noonkester spit in his face before driving away.

Prosecutors said that's when Noonkester went home to get the rifle used in the murders.

The video showed Keith near the back of his pickup truck when prosecutors said Noonkester opened fire, as Kimberlee came out of the store.

There was also a third victim in the store, Anthony Baugher who was shot, but survived.

Defense Attorney Rolland Papendick said a few days before the shooting, Noonkester had been upset when he saw Kimberlee's boyfriend Jonathan Zimmerman, putting his daughters in a car.

Papendick said Noonkester had done research and discovered Zimmerman had a history of sexual offense, and did not want him around his daughters.

A detective with the Tehama County Sheriff's Office also testified about the response to the shooting.

The detective said Noonkester took responsibility for the shooting saying, "I cannot believe I did it," and "how could she do that? What would you do?"

The trial will reconvene Thursday morning.