HUDSON, Wisc. (FOX 9) - The man accused of fatally stabbing a teenager and injuring four others during a tubing trip on the Apple River in Wisconsin will stand trial for murder, a judge ruled Friday in a preliminary hearing.
St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman found there was enough evidence for Nicolae Miu, 52, of Prior Lake, Minnesota to be arraigned on Thursday, Sept 8.
Miu has been charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of 17-year-old Isaac Schuman of Stillwater, Minnesota, and four counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide in connection to the July 30 incident.
In the hearing, Lt. Brandie Hart, who heads the investigative unit of the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office, testified that Miu told investigators he had acted in self-defense and grabbed a knife used by one of his attackers, but investigators reviewed a video filmed by a bystander which showed that Miu had used a knife in his pocket.
Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi, who previously represented Kyle Rittenhouse, cross-examined Hart, and attempted to establish the groundwork for a self-defense claim. He asked her to confirm that the video showed Miu had been surrounded by the group of teenagers before he pulled out his knife and only stabbed people who approached him first.
Their exchange was as follows:
Chirafisi: From what you can see on the video, would you agree that Mr. Miu doesn't harm anyone or attack anyone who hasn't physically attacked him in some manner or form, first?
Hart: I'm not sure how to answer that.
Chirafisi: Well, what do you see? Is that what you see? You see people attacking him, and then he responds. Is that true?
In a follow-up, St. Croix County District Attorney Karl Anderson asked Hart a series of questions regarding what the video showed about Miu's actions before the stabbing.
Anderson: You testified that everyone is yelling at him to walk away. Did you see at any point where Mr. Miu tries to walk away?
Anderson: Where was Mr. Miu holding the knife before it turned physical, when he had the blade open… Was he holding it up in the air? Down at his side? Do you recall?
Hart: Yes, it was down at his side.
Anderson: Did he ever raise it and back away or anything like that?
Judge Waterman noted that the hearing was not to determine Miu's guilt, but based on the testimony, there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Apple River stabbing charges
The criminal complaint against Miu details the stabbing on the Apple River near the sunrise bridge in Somerset, Wisconsin, which allegedly started after Miu was apparently looking for a friend's cellphone in the river but was confronted by tubers who said he was acting sketchy. The encounter escalated, and he apparently punched a female on the left side of her face before Miu was punched, eventually leading to the stabbing.
According to the criminal complaint, witnesses began calling 911 at 3:47 p.m. on July 30, which indicated there were potentially four or five victims with wounds to the mid to upper body and one of the victim's "intestines were hanging from their body."
One victim, later identified as Schuman, was found without vital signs and a puncture wound in his upper abdomen near his left breast. He was pronounced dead at Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, charges said.
Other victims suffered injuries that included a slash wound to the abdomen that was exposing internal organs; another victim suffered a stab wound to his lower left abdomen; a fourth victim had a laceration on his stomach and a puncture wound to his upper left torso; and the fifth victim had a stab wound to the upper left side abdomen.
When authorities arrived, they learned the suspect, later identified as Miu, ran back upriver and entered the woods on the western bank. A witness called police at 4:45 p.m., reporting they saw the suspect downriver at Prospect Park. He was detained at the Rivers Edge Campground in Somerset. He was there with a group of friends and his wife, charges said.
Miu's wife told investigators she and Miu arrived at the campground at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday to float down the river. She said her husband donned SCUBA gear and left the group to try to find a friend's cellphone that was lost in the river near the bridge, the complaint states. The second time he went out looking, a group of guys got off their tubes and started hitting him. She saw this and yelled to their friends, two of whom started running toward the fight.
She heard screaming and then saw Miu and the two friends walking back, noting she didn't see what happened, charges said. She said the two friends were not involved; Miu was already on his way back when they reached him.
Miu's wife told investigators Miu had a knife in his pocket and he told her, "Those guys grabbed it from him," adding the group called him a pedophile and attacked him, charges said.
The complaint said witnesses reported a man, later identified as Miu, bothering a group of juveniles on their tubes and the tubers were yelling for help from others floating down the river. A group of people then stood between the tubers and Miu, asking him to leave.
Witnesses said Miu slapped or punched a female that was in the group confronting him, and then a male punched Miu, causing him to fall into the river, the complaint said. Witnesses then said Miu began stabbing multiple people who were near him using a 3-inch folding knife.
Authorities located the knife a short distance upstream along the west bank of the river, the complaint said. Tubes, including on that appeared to have bloody flesh attached, were found tied together with items belonging to the victims.
Investigators also obtained video of the incident, the complaint states. The video, which was also the focus of the preliminary hearing, showed Miu, shirtless, carrying goggles with a snorkel attached up to the group and he grabs onto their tubes as the group yells to Miu to get away. Miu then walks around the tubes, as if he's looking for something, before walking away with his back to the tubing party. He then turns around and says something to the tubers before walking away again toward the Highway 35 bridge.
The video, according to charges, then shows people converging toward Miu, yelling for him to walk away. He then walked toward a female, who was telling him to go away. In the video, someone can be heard saying he was "looking for little girls." Then a larger group converged toward the area and multiple people were yelling at Miu, with at least one person touching his shoulder.
Later in the video, it appears two females confront Wiu, and he takes out his knife. The camera pans away, and commotion begins with multiple people converging toward Miu, the complaint explains. Miu then falls back into the water and is slapped with an open hand. He then gets back to his feet before being shoved back by a male in yellow swimming trunks. He then starts emerging from the water with his knife in his hand and the person in yellow swimming trunks shoves him again. That's when Miu stabs him in the abdomen.
The video then shows Miu making stabbing motions toward others as at least one person touches his back, charges said.