MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - This week, authorities are piecing together the details of what lead up to a stabbing spree on Somerset’s Apple River, that left Stillwater’s 17-year-old Isaac Schuman dead on Saturday.
After reviewing some of that information, defense attorney Eric Nelson believes there’s an argument to be made that defendant Nicolae Miu acted in self-defense.
Miu made his first court appearance on Monday, the 52-year-old has been charged with first degree intentional murder, and he faces life behind bars if found guilty; but charging documents reveal he claimed self-defense during a police interview.
"In Wisconsin in order to raise self-defense you have to reasonably believe that you are about to be attacked or there’s going to be some intrusion upon your body," attorney Eric Nelson told FOX 9 on Tuesday.
In an interview at the St. Croix County Jail, Miu told investigators: "everything happened so fast" and "I thought that was it for me" after he says people with knives came at him, calling him a child molester.
Witnesses later told law enforcement a group of tubers had surrounded the 52-year-old, calling him a pedophile and telling him to leave, because they said he was looking for little girls on the river. Miu says he was only looking in the water for a lost phone, a discrepancy that could prove significant, because: "he can’t provoke it - that’s a big part of the Wisconsin law is if you are the initial aggressor or you’re doing something unlawful that provokes someone to attack you, you can’t claim self-defense," Nelson explained.
Nelson is not involved in Miu’s case, but he says the details in Monday’s criminal complaint are clearly established to undermine Miu’s self-defense claim. Still, he believes the case is defendable, because details in the complaint say Miu was pushed down in the water by multiple people.
After reviewing video that captures some of the encounter, law enforcement felt Miu had an opportunity to leave the confrontation, but instead escalated it by hitting a woman. That could also be key, because as Nelson explains, "the one part of the video allegedly shows him throw the first punch, and if he’s the initial aggressor he cannot claim self-defense unless he first retreats and then has no choice," Nelson said.
In Wisconsin, a person’s use of force also must be limited to a reasonable amount, "You can’t shoot someone if they slap you, or you can’t stab someone if they push you," Nelson said.