Day 3 of Nicolae Miu's Apple River stabbing trial brings more victim testimony, new video

by 24USATVApril 4, 2024, 12:01 a.m. 25
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HUDSON, Wis. — Day three of the trial for the deadly stabbing on the Apple River in Wisconsin has wrapped up Wednesday in Wisconsin.

Nicolae Miu, of Prior Lake, Minnesota, is accused of killing 17-year-old Isaac Schuman and injuring four others in July of 2022.

The prosecution aims to prove that Miu, 54, was the aggressor. They expect to call 44 witnesses to the stand.

RELATED: Video of deadly fight that led to Apple River stabbing shown during opening arguments of Nicolae Miu trial

The defense is arguing Miu stabbed the five people in self-defense.

We can expect even more emotional testimony on Wednesday and perspective of the cellphone clips detailing what happened that day.

WCCO will have live coverage throughout the trial which you can watch via CBS News Minnesota, Pluto TV or the CBS News app on your phone or connected TV.

WARNING: This post contains images that some may find disturbing.

Details on the make-up of the jury were released on Wednesday. The 14-member panel is composed of eight men and six women.

There are two members in their 20s, one in their 30s, three in their 40s, three in their 50s, one in their 60s, three in their 70s and one in their 90s.

Tony Carlson was the first witness to take the stand on Wednesday. He's the brother of Dante Carlson and the son of Quinton Carlson. He was on the river with family and friends to celebrate his father's birthday.

Carlson was stabbed twice in the torso by Miu and also suffered a cut to his leg.

He says he didn't see Miu punch his friend Madison Cohen, and he didn't see his brother subsequently punch Miu, but he heard his brother scream, "You don't ever hit a woman!"

Prosecutors showed the video of the chaotic attack, where Carlson is shown trying to stop the fighting.

"I was just trying to de-escalate it," Carlson said.

He said he wasn't aware he was stabbed at first and thought Miu had just punched him. Miu is shown in the footage lunging at Carlson with his knife and Carlson deflects it, causing him to suffer a cut to his leg.

Defense attorney Aaron Nelson started his cross-examination by pressing Carlson about his history of seizures, and how they can impact memory.

Carlson told police that day he had been "blanking out a lot" and he didn't remember much.

Carlson clarified to Nelson he was blanking out "because afterward I was holding my friend's intestines," referring to A.J. Martin, who was disemboweled by Miu.

Nelson then played police body camera footage of Carlson talking to a member of law enforcement outside St. Paul's Regions Hospital hours after the attack. In the footage, Carlson tells the investigator he "was on the verge of having a seizure" during the attack, and he took seizure medication Perampanel that day.

Ryhley Mattison was the next person to take the witness stand on Wednesday. She was a member of the Carlson group.

Mattison told prosecutor Karl Anderson she consumed alcohol and smoked marijuana that day, and said she was intoxicated.

Mattison recounted being attacked and seriously wounded by Miu.

"I remember Nic's face and not lunging at me but poking me. I looked down, I was bleeding down. It didn't feel real, it was a lot of shock," Mattison said. "I felt like I was dying. I was losing so much blood and every time I walked I felt like I was getting weaker and weaker."

Mattison cried on the stand when Anderson showed her a photo of herself lying injured on the riverbank.

Anderson also showed the courtroom two images of her wounds post-surgery, including a jagged wound to her side, a wound above it from a chest tube implanted during surgery, and a long wound down her torso from the repair of her internal organs.

In cross-examination, Nelson questioned Mattison about interviews she gave to two Twin Cities news stations where she stated she didn't remember much about the attack because she was "drinking a lot" and she wasn't sure whether Miu punched or slapped Cohen.

"I know I saw (Cohen) get hit," Mattison told Nelson.

Legal expert Joe Tamburino, who's not affiliated with the case, says while Mattison's testimony had an emotional impact that benefited the prosecution, she gave several "I don't know" responses to questions.

Tamburino says the prosecution may not have prepped their witnesses enough or prepared them to explain inconsistencies between testimonies given to law enforcement in the aftermath of the attack and those given on the witness stand.

A.J. Martin, another member of the Carlson group, was next to testify. He lives with Tony Carlson.

Of the four survivors, Martin suffered the most serious injuries.

He told Anderson he works as an electrical apprentice and installs solar panels. Anderson also pointed out Martin had two criminal convictions before the attack.

Martin said when he approached the chaos on the river, he sought to stop the altercation, citing his experience breaking up fights while working at elementary schools.

He said he was trying to keep Miu down in the water before Miu reached up and "got me with the knife."

"The most apparent thing obviously was that my stomach was open and my intestines were in my hands," Martin said.

He remembers telling Carlson, "100% I'm going to die today."

Martin told Anderson he remembered waking up in the hospital with a breathing tube installed and his parents looking at him.

He said he spent 27 days in hospital, losing 50 pounds during his stay.

A wound vac was placed over his gash for a week while doctors conducted exploratory surgeries to check if they missed any other lacerations or injuries.

"They didn't have to open me up, I was already open," Martin said.

A week later, he received internal stitches but his torso remained open, covered by a smaller wound vac.

Martin said he had a few feeding tubes and some nasogastric tubes to help with the fluid buildup in his stomach. He later developed an intestinal hematoma.

"There was no food and no water and IV nutrition wasn't doing enough," Martin said.

Martin showed the jury his large scar, which runs from his ribs down to his belt line.

He admitted to Anderson he drank on the river and was "probably" intoxicated.

He told police his goal was to break up the fight, and he didn't touch Miu with force.

Martin told Nelson in cross-examination he remembered everything up until he was stabbed.

When questioned about inconsistencies between his account to investigators and his testimony on Wednesday, Martin said he spoke to police in the hospital days after the attack and was under the influence of pain medication.

Nelson also pointed out Martin incorrectly told police he thought he saw "the Black guy" hit Miu, referring to Jawahn Cockfield, a member of Schuman's group who filmed the attack.

Martin said his hair was in his eyes and he didn't see Dante Carlson strike Miu while he was in the water.

Martin said he briefly held Miu down in the water by his shoulder to buy time, separate everyone and talk things through. Martin said he had not heard Miu speak during the encounter.

Nelson asked why Martin didn't speak to Miu first before restraining him.

"The right time to use words was before (Miu) hit a woman in the face," Martin said.

He said while others had laid hands on Miu, Martin believed Miu was the true aggressor because he struck Cohen.

Nelson asked Martin if holding Miu down in the water would make him feel endangered.

"It was shallow, his head wasn't going below, he would be OK," Martin said.

Gabriella "Gabby" Khazraeinazmpour was next up on the witness stand. She was a member of the Carlson group.

She told prosecutor Anderson she too had been drinking that day but she didn't remember what she drank or the quantity.

Khazraeinazmpour said she saw a group of kids asking for help because they said "(Miu) was a pedophile."

She said her friend Cohen had asked Miu to leave multiple times and he did not.

She said she was standing between the Schuman and Carlson groups when she saw Miu strike Cohen in the face.

Defense attorney Cory Chirafisi quizzed Khazraeinazmpour over inconsistencies between her statements to police and her testimony on Wednesday regarding the manner of how Miu struck Cohen, and the hand he used.

Khazraeinazmpour told police it was an open-hand slap with his left hand, but on Wednesday said it was a closed-hand punch with his right hand.

She defended the inconsistency by stating she's "very bad with her lefts and rights."

After a brief conversation without the jury in the room, Sondra Miu — Nicolae Miu's ex-wife — took the stand on Wednesday afternoon.

The judge was deciding whether to play a recorded conversation between the couple, and whether the prosecution was permitted to bring up the divorce. In the end, the judge determined that jail recordings between the two could be admissible as evidence, though could not be referred to as jail recordings. The divorce was also relevant information, the judge determined. The jury then came back into the room.

Sondra Miu, who goes by Sandi, lives in Lakeville. She testified that she was on the water that day with Nicolae Miu and friends.

"I was just looking at the sky and the trees and just relaxing and enjoying my day," she said. She was sober that day, and had only been drinking water. Nicolae Miu had about two beers on the day of the stabbing, she said.

She testified that Nicolae Miu went out to look for a missing cell phone. She looked up from her tube and "all of a sudden I saw him on his hands and knees in the water and somebody was hitting him," she said. She was concerned that he was outnumbered and sent friends Ariel and Ernesto to go help him. Then she said she saw Nicolae Miu walking back. Several minutes later, she testified she saw someone getting CPR on the side of the river.

When Nicolae Miu came back towards her, she said she didn't see any blood on him, so she assumed he wasn't too badly hurt.

Since the stabbing, she testified that Nicolae Miu had expressed frustration towards her for not hearing his calls for help. Sandi Miu said she wears hearing aids, and wasn't wearing them on the water that day. The water was loud and she couldn't hear him.

During cross-examination, Sandi Miu described the two's early relationship; they met in 2008 at work, and got married in 2011. She still loved him, she said, and added that he was a "very peaceful person."

She said she'd seen him use his utility knife back at home. Nicolae Miu also wasn't a frequent drinker, and she wasn't concerned about his intoxication level on the day of the stabbing.

After Sandi Miu testified, Larrion Davis, 24, took the stand. He was on the river that day with his friends. He was taking a video of himself and managed to capture some moments of the stabbing.

The video itself, he said, was blurry because it was a Snapchat video, and he transferred it from his iPhone to a police officer's Android. His phone was damaged by the water that day, and was unable to retrieve the entirety of the video.

After showing the roughly 20-second video, Davis described what he saw:

"I saw him stab the light skinned dude before and slice his whole stomach open, and you could see him like push the next person in that video, but it's real blurry, that's pretty much it," he said. After the stabbing, Davis said his group helped a girl who was stabbed, and another man who was stabbed in his arm.

The cross-examination pushed back on Davis, who had spoken to police about the case twice since the incident. In an interview last month, Davis said he saw Miu fully clothed, and he was taking pictures of little girls before getting in the water.

However, the defense argued that Miu was not fully clothed, as demonstrated in the video, and was not taking photos of little girls that day. Davis said his memory was foggy, and struggled to parse out what he told police and what he saw on the day of the stabbing.

"What I saw was a scuffle and a man stabbing people," he said.

Another member of the Carlson group took the witness stand Wednesday afternoon. Sheena Lowell says she had been dating Quinton Carlson at the time of the incident, though noted the two are no longer together and have not talked since.

She said she had not been drinking on the day of the incident and was completely sober.

Lowell recounts coming down the river bend when they saw a "group of younger kids screaming for help."

"They were yelling, 'Help please get this person away from us,'" she said.

Miu was holding the Schuman group's tubes and would not let them go, Lowell told the defense.

She says that's when Cohen approached Miu, pointing down the river and telling him to leave Schuman's group alone.

Lowell says she had been standing over 100 feet away when she saw Miu punch Cohen in the face. She was not sure which hand Miu had used and said that Cohen did not get in Miu's face or personal space.

When asked to describe Miu's punch, Lowell said, "It was a quick punch, as how you would see somebody punch somebody."

After Miu punched Cohen, Lowell says she then saw Dante Carlson punch Miu. Miu fell into the water and once he got up, Dante punched him again, according to her account.

Lowell says at first she thought Miu began punching back, but he was actually using the knife and had stabbed Dante Carlson.

Tamburino, who's not affiliated with the case, said Lowell had solid answers and did not waver in her account of the incident.

Eric Von Williams was the last witness of the day. He was part of Miu's group and said he had just met Miu the day of the incident. Their group mainly consisted of people Williams worked with.

Williams confirmed that a member of their group had lost their phone, but he wasn't sure who. Miu indicated he wanted to look for the phone and said he went down the river about 20 or 30 yards from their group with his snorkeling gear.

Williams told the prosecution he had concerns about Miu being in snorkeling gear.

"[I didn't want people to think] he was up to no good, as a predator or whatever," Williams said.

He clarified later that he did not personally think Miu was a predator, but was worried what other people would think.

Williams said that he was concerned about Schuman's group being intoxicated and did not want to interact with any groups of young people during the trip.

He said he had been watching Miu from upriver because he "didn't want anyone to think he was up to no good." He claims he looked away for a minute and when he turned back, that's when he saw a "brawl." Though he said he did not see Miu injuring anyone.

Williams told prosecutors that he called 911 multiple times and even led paramedics and law enforcement to the victims.

Williams said he never talked to Miu again after the incident.

Among the first to take the stand in the first two days of the trial have been people who could give their direct accounts of what unfolded that day, including Schuman's friends.

On day two, Alina Hernandez, Schuman's mother, recounted the moment she saw her son dead on the river bank.

Jawahn Cockfield, the teen who recorded videos of the deadly confrontation, told the court he started recording when he first encountered Miu and asked him what he was doing near his group. Miu allegedly said he was "looking for little girls."

Cockfield added he thought Miu was acting strange, especially when he ran up to his group and grabbed their tubes and his leg.

The prosecution also started calling witnesses who were more on the outside looking in, including a bystander who ran to help.

Dante Carlson was there that day with another group that included his father and brother. He told prosecutors he heard the teens yelling for help and went over to investigate "as a Good Samaritan."

Carlson said he saw Miu punch one of his friends and he immediately punched Miu in retaliation, causing Miu to fall into the water. Miu eventually stabbed him in the abdomen, and Carlson stood up to show the jury his scar.

Carlson also admitted he was mistaken on which victim was punched first, and he admitted to the defense he had consumed more alcohol than he first reported to the police. His blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit in Wisconsin.

The defense has been keen to point out that a number of the victims who were tubing and were involved in the incident were intoxicated and some were also high on marijuana, which is going to be an important point for the jury to consider in the credibility of the witnesses and their ability to recall accurate facts.

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