Nevada County carjacking victim links torture suspect Layla Callahan to crime scene | TheUnion.com

Nevada County carjacking victim links torture suspect Layla Callahan to crime scene

A man who testified Tuesday about being carjacked said he was forced into his vehicle at gunpoint outside the home of Layla Callahan, a Nevada County woman facing unrelated kidnapping and torture charges.

Michael Toney accused James Jerold Zinola-Young of pistol whipping him, threatening his life and then kidnapping him after a disagreement with Callahan over marijuana. Zinola-Young, 24, forced his victim to direct him to his family, though Toney said he escaped near You Bet and Jokers Wild Lane, falling down a steep embankment and running for his life.

Toney testified in the preliminary hearing of Zinola-Young, who faces charges of carjacking, kidnapping, criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment by violence.

Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven found probable cause in the case after hearing from Toney, and advanced Zinola-Young toward trial.

Callahan, who faces unrelated torture, kidnapping and child abuse charges, is not accused in Zinola-Young's case. Prosecutors said Toney, who testified about selling marijuana, has immunity.

According to Toney, he drove to Callahan's home on Dec. 22 to resolve a disagreement about marijuana that he'd given her. Callahan said she'd sell the cannabis, and Toney contacted her two weeks later after receiving no money.

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"She said she wasn't going to give it back to me or pay me for the other 10 pounds she had," Toney testified.

Toney said he drove around 9 p.m. Dec. 22, to Callahan's home, off Highway 20. Zinola-Young, whom he'd never met, was there. Callahan gave Toney some marijuana and cash, and Zinola-Young asked what Toney called aggressive questions.

After some 20 minutes, Toney left.

"I see Mr. Zinola followed me out the front door," Toney testified. "He pulled a gun out and pointed it at the back of my head."

Zinola-Young said he was robbing Toney, told him to get on the ground and then kicked him in the face. He then told Toney he'd take him in his vehicle and rob his family, Toney said.

At some point Zinola-Young struck Toney in the face with what looked like a .45-caliber pistol, he added.

"He also pointed it to my kneecap and said he was going to blow my kneecap out, too," Toney said.

Zinola-Young moved Toney to the bed of his truck and then its passenger seat before getting behind the wheel. Pointing the gun at Toney, Zinola-Young demanded to know the directions to Toney's home, he testified.

"We drove all the way through town and halfway up You Bet Road," Toney added.

During the drive Zinola-Young forced Toney to talk about Callahan, making statements about her owing him nothing, he said.

Then, once Zinola-Young reached You Bet Road and Jokers Wild Lane, Toney jumped from the passenger seat when the truck slowed. He dove down an embankment, struck a tree halfway down and then fell into a creek bed. He ran for two miles before reaching the first of three homes that he approached that night. The third homeowner allowed him to use a phone and contact his family, Toney testified.

Under questioning from Deputy District Attorney James Morris, Toney said he first told authorities a false story about the carjacking. Zinola-Young had threatened him and his family, and Toney feared prosecution for his role in selling marijuana.

Toney later changed his story, telling authorities about the marijuana sales, he said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.