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Who is Nicolae Miu, man on trial for killing 1, stabbing 4 on Apple River?

More witnesses to take stand Wednesday in Nicolae Miu’s Apple River stabbing trial
More witnesses to take stand Wednesday in Nicolae Miu’s Apple River stabbing trial 04:20

HUDSON, Wis. — A trial is underway in western Wisconsin for Nicolae Miu, a 54-year-old man accused of stabbing four people and killing a teenager in July of 2022 on the Apple River.

Miu is charged with first-degree intentional homicide for the death of 17-year-old Isaac Schuman and four counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. He pleaded not guilty in September of 2022.

The prosecution is arguing that Miu was an aggressor in the incident, and plans to call more than 40 witnesses to the stand. The defense is contending that Miu stabbed the five people in self-defense because the teenagers surrounded and taunted him.

TRIAL COVERAGE: Watch live on CBS News Minnesota | Follow day 3 updates here

Who is Nicolae Miu?

According to the defense's opening statements, Miu was born in Romania. When he was a teenager — about 15 or 16 — he immigrated to the United States because his father wanted his family to have a better life. They were taken in as political refugees and accepted by a church in Minnesota.

Defense attorney Aaron Nelson highlighted Miu's language proficiency; he grew up speaking Romanian but also learned Russian. By the time he moved to the United States, Miu also knew French and Latin. Then he picked up his fifth language: English. 

Miu went to school in South Dakota and then became a mechanical engineer. Nelson said Miu was "a bit of a handyman" and good with tools.

Miu eventually settled down in Prior Lake with his now ex-wife, Sondra, who goes by Sandi. He later told police he was "living a peaceful, quiet life in Minnesota" and "had never been in trouble before."

Nelson also mentioned that Miu "isn't in the best health." In 2020, he had a heart attack and a quadruple bypass. "It still makes him feel fragile," Nelson said.

His ex-wife testified on Wednesday that Miu was released from the hospital three to four weeks later and has had "limitations" since the surgery. 

What was Nicolae Miu doing on the Apple River before the stabbing?

Nelson said during his opening statements that Miu was with his friends Amanda and Ernesto, along with some other adults, on the day of the stabbing. Miu had been down the river once before, several years earlier.

Miu brought his pocket knife with him that day because his friend asked him to bring it, Nelson said. Miu's ex-wife said she's seen him carry it on him and use it around the house. 

Miu also liked to snorkel, so he brought his goggles and snorkel with him that day.

At some point, Miu's friend lost his phone, and the group went to look for it downriver, Nelson said. His ex-wife testified that it is not unusual for him to help a friend. 

Nicolae Miu makes his way into the courtroom at the St. Croix County District Court in Hudson, Wis., on Monday, April 1, 2024. 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.

The first three days of the trial have consisted of emotional testimony from several people, including Schuman's mother, who recounted the moment she saw her dead son on the river bank.

The teenager who filmed video of the incident, Jawahn Cockfield, said he did so after he allegedly heard Miu say he was "looking for little girls." 

The four others who were stabbed — Ryhley Mattison, A.J. Martin, Dante Carlson and Tony Carlson — have all taken the stand, showing the courtroom their wounds and describing the chaotic scene. Dante Carlson said he punched Miu after he saw Miu punch one of his friends. Miu fell into the water, but he eventually stabbed Dante Carlson in the stomach.

The defense has pushed back on the witnesses, pointing out that some were intoxicated and high on marijuana, which could contribute to the jury's perception of the witnesses and question their credibility.

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