Crime /

Nicolae Miu Found Guilty in Apple River Case

'We obviously disagree with deep sadness,' said Miu's defense team who maintained that the 54-year-old acted out of self-defense

Nicolae Miu Found Guilty in Apple River Case

A Wisconsin jury unanimously found Nicolae Miu guilty for his role in the death of 17-year-old Issac Schuman on the Apple River in 2022. 

The charges include four counts of recklessly endangering safety, one count of battery, and one count of reckless homicide. He could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison for the reckless homicide conviction alone.

Miu was accused of stabbing five people in July of 2022 while floating on the river with friends. Video evidence of the incident has rallied support in favor of the 54-year-old engineer, whose defense team has maintained he acted in self-defense while surrounded by 13 unruly and intoxicated young adults.

The young adults’ testimonies seemed to lack critical details, with many admitting they could not clearly remember how the events played out.

Defense attorney Aaron Nelson told reporters that his team and Miu were not surprised but were “respectfully disappointed." 

"I understand it's a huge task the jury just undertook, we obviously disagree with deep sadness,” Nelson said, per KARE11.

On the day of the incident, Miu reportedly separated from his group to look for a friend’s lost cell phone. He was carrying a pocketknife he had brought to cut twine used to tie inner tubes together. While searching, a group of young adults began heckling him and screaming that he was a pedophile. In the video, the teens become increasingly hostile to Miu.

They got in his face, they screamed at him, they called him names, they swore at him,” Corey Chirafisi, an attorney for Miu, said during the trial, per The Daily Mail. “They put their hands on him and the group of six, they became brave. The group of six became brave to the point that they circled him and started taunting him.

In the videos played during the trial, Miu can be seen falling into the water while the group surrounded him.

“They punch him. They push him. They slap him. They hit him again,” said Chirafisi while describing the video.

Miu took the stand during the trial and recalled the altercation, describing his increasing sense of fear when the young adults began yelling at him. 

“All of a sudden, they were like wolves around me and they were attacking me from all directions and I truly, truly, feared for my life,” he said on the stand. “They came on to me. They hit me, they got on top of me, and I don't remember anything after that.”

The prosecution argued that after injuring the teen, Miu discarded the pocket knife and walked back to his group – indicating that he was aware of the gravity of the situation. They accused the Romanian native of snapping and acting out of anger not fear.

One of the most contentious issues in the case centers on the accusation that Miu hit Madison Coen in the face, which prompted the other young adults to intervene and ultimately led to the stabbing. The exact moment was not caught by the teen filming his group’s interaction with Miu. 

When pressed by the defense on the stand, multiple participants in the incident admitted they could not remember or did not see the alleged hit. Dante Carlson, who was injured during the ensuing altercation, admitted on cross-examination that he initially told police he saw Miu hit another woman – Rhyley Mattison –but changed his story before trial. 

Carlson also confirmed that he was intoxicated and held his beer while punching Miu three times. The then 20-year-old told police that he “laid [Miu] out.”

Despite the lack of definitive eyewitness testimony, the jury found Miu guilty of battery for the alleged assault of Coen.

Prosecutor Karl Anderson told reporters that "Isaac got justice" after the verdict was announced.

"I think about half of the jury panel had been to the Apple River, so I think it kind of hits close to home for a lot of people," he said, per the Star Tribune.

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