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

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UPDATE (11:15 a.m. on April 11) — Nicolae Miu has been found guilty of multiple criminal charges, including homicide, in the 2022 Apple River stabbings in Wisconsin. Read the updated story here.

HUDSON, Wis. — Investigators say video from July 2022 shows Nicolae Miu being pushed and hit by a group of tubers on the river before he stabbed five people, killing 17-year-old Isaac Schuman. The victims ranged in age from 17 to 24 and were from Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The trial for a 54-year-old Prior Lake man accused of killing a teen and stabbing four others on the Apple River in Wisconsin nearly two years ago began on Monday. 

Witnesses said Miu was initially in the river with goggles and a snorkel. A group of tubers accused of him of looking at young girls underwater, but Miu told investigators he was looking for a friend's missing cellphone.

RELATED: Man charged with stabbing tubers in Wisconsin says he's hired one of Kyle Rittenhouse's attorneys

The prosecution argues that Miu was the aggressor by stabbing five people. A knife, believed to belong to Miu, was later recovered by officers on the river bank.

Miu's defense attorneys, though, see it much differently, saying the teens taunted him, then surrounded him, and Miu was fighting for his life. 

He is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in Schuman's death, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the stabbings of Ryhley Mattison, A.J. Martin, Dante Carlson and Tony Carlson. He pleaded not guilty to all charges in September 2022.

If convicted, Miu could be sentenced to life in prison.

Cell phone video shows altercation that led to Apple River stabbings (Warning: Graphic Content) 03:01

Opening statements

The prosecution

The trial began with the opening statement from state prosecutor Karl Anderson, who called the deadly attack "senseless and horrific."

"All Nicolae had to do was walk away," Anderson said. "He eventually did walk away, but not after stabbing five people."

Miu with his tubing group WCCO

Anderson showed several screenshots from two videos taken by one of the members of Schuman's group, identified as Jawahn C.

Anderson said a member of Miu's group named Ariel dropped his cellphone in the river. Ariel said it wasn't that big of a deal because he had insurance, but Miu insisted on trying to retrieve it.

Miu approached Schuman's group. In the first video, approximately nine seconds in length, Jawahn C. is heard yelling "(Miu) says he's looking for little girls!"  


In the second video, Miu is shown running towards Schuman's group.

A group of adult tubers, identified as the Carlson group, then came over to intervene. The Schuman group is heard cheering when they arrive.

While showing several screenshots from the second video, which is almost 3 minutes and 30 seconds long, Anderson underlined that audio in the video indicates Miu was asked more than 20 times by the Schuman and Carlson groups to go away.

In the several screenshots, Anderson noted that before the physical confrontations begin, Miu appeared to be "smirking" while holding his knife low by his side. Anderson also stated that at no point did Miu speak or tell anyone to get back, and he didn't step back or walk away from the groups.  


Anderson said the first time the confrontation turned physical was when Miu punched a member of the Carlson group named Madison. Another member of the group, Dante Carlson, then punched Miu, causing him to fall into the shallow river.

Anderson said in a 25-second span, Miu then stabbed four members of the Carlson group: A.J. Martin, Ryhley Mattison, Dante Carlson and Tony Carlson. Miu also fatally stabbed Schuman, who suffered wounds to his torso, chest and heart.

"You don't see anyone besides Nicolai with a weapon. You don't see the boys touch Nicolai until after stabbings start," Anderson said.

Anderson said no one in either group was initially aware that Miu was stabbing people until they saw Martin in the water, who had been disemboweled. Anderson also pointed out that Miu had his knife's blade pointed upwards in the attacks.  


Afterward, Anderson said Miu walked back to his tubing group and told them "they took his knife." Several members of Miu's group called 911 to say several people were hurt, but they said they didn't know what happened. His group stayed at a sandbar until law enforcement arrived. One member of his group also helped some of the victims before speaking with police.

Anderson said Jawahn C. took a screenshot of Miu from the video and gave it to law enforcement, who quickly disseminated it. Employees then spotted Miu and alerted deputies, who then took Miu — who was then clothed and wearing a hat and sunglasses — into custody. Anderson said members of Miu's group protested his arrest, saying they "had the wrong guy."

Anderson said when Miu was in the back of a squad car at the scene, he allegedly said to the sheriff, "What's going on? I hear somebody got stabbed and I fit the description." Miu was then told he was under arrest for homicide and attempted murder.  


When he was interviewed later by law enforcement, Anderson said Miu was surprised to find there was video of the attacks. He told investigators he didn't have a knife, but members of Schuman's group were armed with knives. Miu allegedly said they knocked off his goggles and snorkel and threw them in the water and they tried to pull his pants down.

"I just grabbed the kid's knife. I didn't even know if I was holding it right. I just grabbed it from him because he tried to poke me with it, so, I feared for my life," Miu said, according to a transcript shown in a slide by Anderson.  

The knife found on a river bank WCCO

Anderson said Miu went on to tell investigators that he didn't know where the knife was that he used to defend himself with, but later a member from Miu's group told investigators they saw him "throw something onto shore before walking back to their group."

Anderson said when investigators told him four people were hurt and one died, Miu allegedly said, "Was that because they fought each other?"

Investigators later recovered Miu's knife on a river bank, and it tested positive for DNA from some of the victims.  

Isaac Schuman GoFundMe

The defense

Defense attorney Aaron Nelson's opening statement repeatedly hammered home that Miu stabbed the other tubers in self-defense because he feared for his life.

Nelson began his statements with biographical details on Miu, who grew up in Romania and immigrated to the U.S. as a teen. He said Miu speaks several languages and described him as an "intelligent" and "peaceful" man.

He also emphasized that Miu was an "unfit 260-pound man" who had undergone a quadruple bypass surgery two years before the deadly encounter.  


Nelson said Miu only brought his knife at the request of a friend so they could use it to cut the twine needed to connect the group's tubes before they coasted down the river. He said Miu likes to snorkel and brought his equipment, eventually using it to find his friend's phone.

Nelson described Schuman's group as "drunk teens" who were "smoking stuff." He also said Schuman's autopsy results revealed he had a blood alcohol level of .219, and his friends later told investigators Schuman was the most sober one in their group that day.

Nelson said the group began to "heckle" and "humiliate" Miu based on his appearance and loudly accused him of being a "raper" who was "looking for little girls." Nelson also pointed out that there were no "little girls" near the groups during the altercation.  


He said Miu began to run towards Schuman's group because he saw one of them hold up what he believed to be the cellphone he was searching for, and dropped his goggles and snorkel into the river in the process.

Nelson accused Schuman's group of then threatening Miu with physical harm.

"'You got 10 seconds,' that's what that group of drunk teenagers says to that old man," Nelson said.

He said Miu then began to walk towards the Carlson group to appeal to them, but the group was immediately hostile. Nelson said an older member of the Carlson group, Quentin Carlson, later told investigators that he sent his sons Tony and Dante over to Miu and the Schuman group because he worried "the old guy" was going to get hurt.  


Nelson said Carlson's group was swayed by the Schuman group's claims that Miu was a "predator" looking for "little girls," and Miu was then soon surrounded.

"They got a crowd. They told lies to make the crowd angry," Nelson said. "Nick Miu standing in the river with 13 strangers. Thirteen drunk, angry strangers. Thirteen against one. They yelled and they screamed in order to attract a crowd."

Nelson said there were inconsistencies between the parties involved in their respective interviews over whether Miu punched, slapped or pushed a member of Carlson's party named Madison, which led to Miu being knocked into the river by Dante Carlson.  

Miu walks away after the attacks, as A.J. Martin collapses into the river WCCO

"When he tries to get up out of the water, they attack him in the front, smack him across the front of the face while somebody comes from behind and starts pushing him down. And that moment he feared for his life and he responded with self-defense," Nelson said.

He said Miu then began to make "quick, short jab motions" with his knife towards the mob.

"When people attacked Miu, he responded," Nelson said.


Nelson then showed three images of what appeared to be Schuman strangling Miu, which he said caused Miu to fall backward and fatally stab Schuman by accident.

"I'm sure (Schuman) was a wonderful man, wonderful human being. We're going to hear a lot about him, but in this moment, on this day, on that river, when he was drunk, he tried to strangle Nick Miu," Nelson said.

Nelson said after the stabbings, Miu tossed the knife because he was "suffering from shock and trauma."

The first witness

Ryan Nelson was the first witness called by the prosecution.

Nelson said he was positive that Miu started the fight when he hit Madison.

"It looked like he struck her definitively with his right hand," Nelson said.

During an intense cross-examination, defense attorneys challenged Nelson's memory of events. 

The trial continues on Tuesday at St. Croix County Courthouse in Hudson, Wisconsin.

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