Mad River Union
EUREKA – Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen has dismissed the murder charges against McKinleyville resident Kyle Zoellner, 23, in connection to the slaying April 15 of Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson, 19.
The judge ruled that insufficient evidence lead him to conclude that further investigation is warranted.
He emphasized that only 16 days had elapsed between the alleged murder and the five-day preliminary hearing, which ended today.
Reinholtsen underscored that none of the witnesses who testified either saw a knife or saw the stabbing. Nor was there any testimony that the knife was in the possession of or the property of Zoellner. Both the prosecution and the defense agreed that a single fingerprint and some cloth fibers lifted from the knife did not match either Zoellner’s fingerprints or the hoodie he was said to be wearing at the time of the stabbing.
Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer, who was in attendance at the ruling, endorsed the judge’s suggestions for further analysis of the physical evidence including forensic details surrounding the knife recovered by Arcata Police at the scene in an attempt to determine its source and ownership. She also called for interviewing many more of the estimated 100 people at the Spear Avenue party, where Lawson was stabbed to death. Diemer added “This is a very hard crime for Arcata on many levels.”
Humboldt State University President Lisa Rossbacher told reporters after the judge’s ruling “I think we all feel impatient for a resolution, but we have to be patient in the pursuit of justice. We know that this isn’t the end [the investigation]. This is a real tragedy for the whole community,” campus and Arcata alike.