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Day 6 of Nicolae Miu's Apple River stabbing trial wraps Monday

Day 6 of Nicolae Miu Apple River stabbing trial wraps up
Day 6 of Nicolae Miu Apple River stabbing trial wraps up 01:43

HUDSON, Wis. — Nicolae Miu's Apple River stabbing trial began its second week of testimony Monday morning, featuring new details and new photos about the extent of the victim's injuries.

Miu, of Prior Lake, Minnesota, stabbed five people on the river in Wisconsin on July 30, 2022. Seventeen-year-old Isaac Schuman died in the stabbing and four others were injured. The victims ranged in age from 17 to 24 and were from Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The prosecution aims to prove that Miu, 54, was the aggressor. Miu's attorneys are arguing he stabbed the five people in self-defense.

Miu 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. 

Nicolae Miu looks on during his murder trial Friday, April 5, 2024 at the St. Croix County Circuit Court in Hudson, Wis.. Nicolae Miu, a 54-year-old Prior Lake man, is accused of murdering 17-year-old Isaac Schuman and wounding four others in a 2022 fight in the Apple River. Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune

Owen Peloquin testifies  

The first witness called to the stand Monday was 19-year-old Owen Peloquin, who was with Schuman's group on the day of the stabbing. He says he was Schuman's best friend and had known him for five or six years. 

Peloquin described the moments when Miu approached their group. 

"He just weirdly sprinted at us, just made us all super uncomfortable," he said. 

The prosecution showed a video of Miu grabbing one of the tubes, and Peloquin could be heard in the video telling Miu to go away. Peloquin says at that point, the people in his group got out of their tubes. 

Owen Peloquin   WCCO

Peloquin testified that they were calling Miu a pedophile because they had heard him say "something about little girls." He said he didn't recall Miu saying anything about looking for a phone and that he was just "mumbling." 

After the second group approached and tensions escalated, Peloquin said he remembered seeing the knife in Miu's hand, but didn't remember him taking it out. He did see the clip of the knife in Miu's pocket before he took out the knife. 

Cell phone video was shown in court, showing the moment Peloquin saw the knife in Miu's right hand. He said he was in "pure shock." Peloquin said he didn't hear Miu strike anyone but he heard it, and saw a woman fall back. He said he didn't see Miu get hit, but saw him fall into the water. 

Peloquin testified that he didn't see anyone else get stabbed, and that he did not touch Miu at any point during the incident. 

Though he didn't see Schuman stabbed, Pelquin did see him fall into the water. He then helped another friend move Schuman to the riverbank and it was at that point he noticed the wound to Schuman's chest. 

"I tried my hardest to stop the bleeding," Peloquin said. 

Peloquin didn't have his phone on him at the time, but he eventually retrieved it and called Schuman's mother. 

The defense contended that interview records show that Peloquin did not tell police that Miu said he was looking for "little girls." But Peloquin said that's what he remembered. 

Dr. Brian Meyer testifies 

The next witness up to the stand was Dr. Brian Myer, a trauma surgeon working at Regions Hospital in St. Paul on the day of the stabbings. 

Myer was involved in the evaluation and treatment of Ryhley Mattison, Dante Carlson and A.J. Martin, who were all stabbed. Mattison was the first patient to arrive at the hospital. 

Dr. Brian Myer   WCCO

Myer testified on the response to their injuries, including the most serious being Martin's injuries. Myer said that Martin's heart stopped for nine minutes on the way to the hospital and also stopped at the hospital. 

Myer said that Martin was suffering from an "incision" from his sternum down to the middle of his pelvis. He said Martin's heart stopped due to damage to his iliac artery and a vein. Injuries to his small intestine and colon were also discovered. 

Myer testified that Martin had multiple surgeries and wouldn't have survived without medical intervention. 

Myer said the Martin case stands out to him, because he's never had a patient with that large of a penetrating wound before. 

Sally Standaert testifies

The third witness on the stand was Sally Standaert, an investigator with the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office. 

Standaert testified that she was asked to assist in the Apple River stabbings case. Her specific duties included collecting DNA samples of A.J. Martin, Dante Carlson and Ryhley Mattison. 

Her testimony was brief and mostly pertained to collecting DNA samples and placing them in evidence. 

Ashley Hoffman testifies

Next up to the stand was Ashley Hoffman, a nurse who conducted an examination of Miu following the stabbings.

Hoffman said that Miu consented to the examination and reported multiple injuries to Hoffman. She said he reported getting hit in the back and the back of his head, but did not have any pain in those areas. The only pain Miu reported was on his buttocks due to hitting stones on the river.

Miu reported that someone told him that there was blood on one of his ears, but Hoffman did not find anything of note for either ear.

Hoffman said that Miu made several statements during the examination that "there were about seven people on top of me, hitting me in the back of the head and on the back. I don't know with what."

Ashley Hoffman WCCO

In a second statement, Miu said, "They just attacked me. They called me a child rapist."

In a third statement, Miu said "A guy pulled a knife on me. I took his wrist and turned it into his belly."

Hoffman did not recall Miu saying he had been hit in the face or choked. Hoffman said she could not find anything that suggested he had been choked or hit in the face. Miu did have an abrasion inside his cheek. Miu said he bit it during the attack.  

John Shilts testifies

Shilts, the lead investigator in the case, interviewed people at the scene and at Regions Hospital on the day of the stabbings. He testified that none of the witnesses he interviewed showed "clues of impairment."

He also said that law enforcement found two knives — not including the knife Miu used — while searching the river, both of which looked "corroded."

John Shilts WCCO

Much of Shilts' testimony concerned evidence he wasn't able to retrieve — a video that was too compressed to properly view and a photo from Madison Coen's phone. He testified that, contrary to Coen's account, law enforcement did not tell her they did not want the photo, just that she shouldn't be worried about having deleted it. He also outlined the steps he took to try to retrieve that photo, including searching the phone itself and attempting data extraction through an external device and software.

Shilts also discussed how he helped fellow investigator Charles Coleman recreate the scene of the stabbings. Shilts described how he walked the river and reviewed video frame-by-frame to instruct Coleman on the involved parties' positions, which Coleman used to create a virtual representation of the incident. As part of this testimony, Shilts testified about the depth of the water when he walked it, which was after the day of the incident. Shilts said it varied from below his knees to up to his chest at different points in the river.

During cross examination, Shilts testified that the witnesses he interviewed — Peloquin, Alex Vang and Ryan Nelson — never mentioned Miu looking for little girls, though others did. The defense also asked if he noted any injuries to Coen's face, to which he said he did not.

Benjamin Trebian returns to the stand

St. Croix County Sgt. Benjamin Trebian, who testified last week, returned to the stand Monday afternoon.

Trebian interviewed Ernesto Torres Chaguez, who was part of Miu's group on July 30, 2022, in the aftermath of the stabbing. Trebian's body camera footage of that interview was played in court. Torres Chaguez also testified last week.

In the footage, Torres Chaguez tells Trebian that Miu said someone was "taking [his] knife." The prosecution pointed out that this contradicts Torres Chaguez's testimony from last week. 

Carlos de la Cruz returns to the stand

Detective Carlos de la Cruz of the New Richmond Police Department was another repeat witness.

He was questioned about his interview of Ariel Chaguez Leyet, who was part of Miu's group on the day of the stabbings. De la Cruz testified that he showed Chaguez Leyet a photo of him standing near Miu after the stabbings, despite Chaguez Leyet saying he did not see Miu do anything.

Legal expert Joe Tamburino, who is unaffiliated with the case, told WCCO the prosecution is using these witnesses to attempt to discredit previous testimony from Torres Chaguez and Chaguez Leyet.

Defense calls witnesses

The prosecution and defense agreed to allow the defense to call witnesses Monday, despite the prosecution not having rested yet.

St. Croix County investigator Andrew Dittman was the defense's first witness. The defense asked him about his interview of Jawahn Cockfield, specifically whether Cockfield mentioned Miu looking for little girls. Dittman said Cockfield did not mention this in his interview.

The prosecution then asked Dittman if he was told, during interviews, that Miu punching a woman was what set off the July 30, 2022, incident. He said he was told that after that punch, "chaos ensued."

The defense picked apart his assertion that everyone he interviewed said Miu punched a woman — specifically, the defense pointed out that some interviewees said he slapped her, or hit her with an open hand. The defense also pointed out inconsistencies in the interviewees' determination of the inciting incident.

Roberto Baldazo testifies

The next witness for the defense was Roberto Baldazo. He was on the river that day with his wife, who testified earlier in the trial, along with their teenage children and other friends. 

Baldazo said he first thought people were dancing in the distance on the river until they got closer and realized how serious the situation was. That's when he said his wife, Andrea, jumped out of her tube and ran toward the group to help give aid to Schuman. She said she thought someone may have been impaled by a tree.

At first, he said he was concerned for his wife's safety because he didn't know what she was running into. He said he ran toward her and tripped on the river rocks. He said he had a knife in his pocket and the butt of it dug into his side when he fell. 

Baldazo testified about helping his wife's treatment of Schuman. While she was helping, he said he was doing a "threat assessment" of the surrounding area. He said he had the knife, but never pulled it out thinking he was threatened. 

Baldazo said at one point while he was talking to a police officer, he saw a snorkel in the river and picked it up. He said someone ran up and said it was Miu's snorkel and Baldazo gave it to the officer. 

Amanda Torres testifies

The last witness of the day, Amanda Torres, testified for the defense. Torres said she's a friend of Miu and has known him for 20 years. They've visited each other's houses in the past. 

Torres testified that she knows Miu's character and agreed with the defense that he is a peaceful person. 

Torres was with Miu's group that day on the river. She said she had no concerns about anyone's alcohol consumption, including Miu's. 

Torres testified that Miu always seems to have a knife on him and she's seen him use it as a tool. She said she saw him cut some rope that day on the river. 

Torres said that the group and Miu were just happy and relaxing before one of their friends, Ariel, lost their phone. That's when Miu left to find the phone. 

She said she didn't see anything or know anything was wrong until Miu's then-wife said "Nic's in trouble, Nic's in trouble, go help him." Torres said she couldn't see much due to her position on the tube. 

Later, Torres said Miu returned to the group and told her what happened. She said he appeared "in shock" and pale. 

After Torres, the court went into recess until Tuesday morning. The prosecution is expected to call more witnesses to the stand.

Week 1 recap

In his opening statements, St. Croix County District Attorney Karl Anderson showed video of the violent confrontation, which he called "senseless and horrific." He said all Miu had to do was "walk away."

Anderson also recounted Miu's comments to law enforcement after the stabbings, including asking if the death and injuries were "because they fought each other?" and saying he didn't have a knife.

Miu's defense team repeatedly tried to impart that Miu stabbed the other tubers in self-defense because he feared for his life, calling him an "intelligent" and "peaceful" man. They also stressed the intoxication of Schuman's group and that Miu was in the river with "13 strangers."

Much of the early testimony was emotional, with Schuman's mother and others recounting the horror of the scene on July 30, 2022.

Several of the surviving victims took the stand, along with first responders who aided the injured, hunted for the suspect and arrested Miu. Much of the first responder testimony consisted of body camera footage from the day of the stabbings.

The first week ended with testimony from those who were with Miu on the river that day, including a witness for the defense who was allowed to testify because he needed a Spanish interpreter, and there was already one in court for the prosecution's witnesses.

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

Nicolae Miu looks on during his murder trial Friday, April 5, 2024 at the St. Croix County Circuit Court in Hudson, Wis.. Nicolae Miu, a 54-year-old Prior Lake man, is accused of murdering 17-year-old Isaac Schuman and wounding four others in a 2022 fight in the Apple River. Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune
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