DA: Lawson investigation needs more time

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

ARCATA – The mother of David Josiah Lawson, who was stabbed to death at an Arcata house party 21 months ago, says that a knife retrieved by investigators has tested positive for both the blood of her son and the alleged killer.

“The Department of Justice {has} identified my son’s DNA on the knife, that was used to stab him to death. They have also [identified} my son’s murderer on the knife, yet the case is still being reviewed. Where is the justice?” wrote Charmaine Lawson in a Facebook post Jan. 8. 

David Josiah Lawson

Lawson has filed a lawsuit against Arcata Police, claiming the department bungled the investigation of the stabbing death of her 19-year-old son, who died April 15, 2017 after he was repeatedly stabbed during a fight outside a house on Spear Avenue in Arcata. 

Arcata Police arrested McKinleyville resident Kyle Zoellner on suspicion of murder back in April 2017, but with conflicting testimony, no eyewitnesses and a lack of evidence, the case against him was dismissed without prejudice in May 2017.

Lawson, who was studying criminal justice at Humboldt State, was a black man. Zoellner is white. There are allegations that race played a role in the killing. Activists have repeatedly claimed that delays in the case and failure to charge someone for the killing are a sign of racism.

Despite the dismissal of charges against Zoellner, Arcata Police continued their investigation, hired outside help and requested the assistance of the FBI. Two months ago, police wrapped up their investigation and forwarded their results to Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming.

In a statement released last week, Fleming said additional information is needed.

“The interpretation of the analysis of DNA on the knife is of course critical to the case. That is one of the issues we found incompletely resolved in the casefile we received from the Arcata Police Department, therefore we requested additional information on the analysis from the California Department of Justice,” Flemming wrote. “We must know what experts will say under oath about the DNA analysis to make a just decision about the case. We are also seeking additional information on a second issue. Justice would not be served by a decision by our Office that does not take into account critical existing information. I do not have a way to provide a timeline because justice would not be served by making a decision without all the information we need and I’m not in control of when we will receive it.”

A vigil for David Josiah Lawson was held Tuesday, Jan. 15 at the Humboldt County Courthouse after the Union had gone to press.

Peoples Rally & March for Justice is Monday, Jan. 21

The Justice for David Josiah Lawson group is hosting a Peoples Rally & March for Justice Monday, Jan. 21 from 10 a.m. to noonat the Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 Fifth St. in Eureka.



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