FRESNO, Calif. – The man who achieved fame as Kai, the home-free, hatchet-wielding hitchhiker, was in fine form on the witness stand this week, dropping f-bombs, offering philosophical asides and sparring with a defense attorney during a preliminary hearing in an attempted murder case.
Kai, whose his real name is Caleb Lawrence McGillivary, gained notoriety for helping stop the attack with three blows to Jett Simmons McBride’s head with his hatchet. He has appeared on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” show and is a YouTube sensation.
On Thursday, he was the prosecution’s star witness as he recounted how McBride, of Tacoma, said, “Watch this. I’m Jesus Christ,” and then drove into a group of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. workers on Feb. 1.
McBride, 54, is charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and battery.
McGillivary took the witness stand and started to give himself the oath to tell the truth before Fresno County Superior Court Judge Gary Hoff stopped him.
When he resumed, he said he was hitchhiking in Bakersfield when he was picked up by McBride, who shook his hand, said “I’m Jett,” and they hit the road.
The two drove north to Fresno, talking about religion along the way, and then headed to the city’s Tower District, where, McGillivary testified, McBride gave him money to buy marijuana – which he called “a bag of schwag.”
McGillivary said he rolled a joint, McBride smoked about a quarter of it, and he finished it. He was feeling “gnarly and mellow” when they headed to a recycling center.
It was then, McGillivary said, that things started turning bad.
McBride recounted a trip to the Virgin Islands where, he said, he raped a young woman. A few moments later, McBride uttered his comment about being Jesus Christ and then drove directly into the PG&E workers, McGillivary said.
Most of the workers dodged the car, but one – Rayshawn Neely – didn’t. He later testified he never saw the car coming because he was facing away and turned too late.
Testimony later offered by Neely and Tonya Ann Baker, who rushed to Neely’s aid after the incident, described McBride getting out of the car and trying to pull Neely off of it, putting him in even more pain.
As he did so, Neely testified, McBride said, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?”
Baker testified she and her daughter tried to get McBride away from Neely. McBride used a racial slur against Neely, who is black, saying his entire race “have to go,” she said.
As Baker tried to pull McBride off Neely, she testified, he turned on her, putting her in a bear hug and hitting her in the back. That’s when McGillivary intervened, hitting McBride three times over the head.
“I ran up in the back of him and smashed him in the back of his head with that (expletive) hatchet,” McGillivary said. It didn’t stop him. Neither did a second strike.
But after the third, McGillivary testified, McBride “dropped like a sack of potatoes.”
Still, a short time later, McBride got up and came after McGillivary, who had the keys to the car in his pocket. McGillivary testified he retreated and pulled a pocketknife.
“I wasn’t about to let him get back in that (expletive) car,” he testified.
Baker testified that some of the PG&E workers pinned down McBride and held him until Fresno County sheriff’s deputies arrived.