By: Tina Sampay
HSU alumni (2016)
Journalism & Race & Gender Theory major/minor
Today a group of students arrived at Eureka’s courthouse after word spread through campus that the murder suspect who stabbed Humboldt State University student David Lawson to death this past weekend, might be released.
The District Attorney's Office had not yet filed any criminal charges against Kyle Zoellner and if they did not by today he would be released.
Students and some HSU faculty waited outside of Courtroom 2 where Zoellner would be brought if he went to court that day. After court took a break and came back at 4:00 p.m, Zoellner was finally brought out.
Zoellner then proceeded to plead not guilty to the charges of murder in addition to denying the special allegation use of a deadly weapon, which was the knife. His bail was set at $1 million dollars and a preliminary hearing was set for May 1st, with a intervention on April 27th both at 9:45 a.m.
The judge asked Zoellner if he could afford an attorney to which he replied no.
Deputy Public Defender Luke Broomfield was then assigned to the case although I read the family might have been receiving legal counsel from a Mr. Greg Rael of Eureka.
Eureka District Attorney Maggie Fleming was also present in court.
We were all definitely relieved that this guy was not released but I am sure that we all knew that the fight had only begun.
Most people and even the jury will look at the mugshot of Zoellner and form a conclusion of self defense. According to accounts that I heard from students that were there, Zoellner was jumped because he was trying to leave the scene into a waiting car after he stabbed Josiah. I heard this before the mugshot was even released which would explain his injuries.
The mugshot and how Zoellner looked once police arrived to the scene, will most likely be big factors in this case and we will see how stereotypes play into self-defense pleas.
Everytime I hear accounts of what happened that night from people that were there, it is always Zoellner and "two white girls" as the aggressors. They were accusing Josiah of stealing a phone as he attempted to exit the party. One of these girls most likely were the ones that pepper-sprayed Josiah prior to him being stabbed by Zoellner.
What ever truly happened that night leading up to Josiah's death, one fact alone is certain, Josiah was pepper-sprayed before he was stabbed. This means that he could not have been a threat which would justify a self defense claim. This I believe, will be a key factor for the prosecution.
The police are still asking for witnesses to come forward because although the police have interviewed over 20 witnesses, no one ever saw Zoellner with the knife.
According to a article published by the Mad River Union:
"Zoellner admitted to detectives that, "he was involved in a physical fight with the victim."
Rest in Power and Peace David Josiah Lawson, your memory lives on always.