Family of Kyle Zoellner Who Was Released in Stabbing Death Issues Statement to Family and Friends of Victim

A student holds the program for David Josiah Lawson’s memorial at Humboldt State University. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

The Zoellner family who saw Kyle Zoellner arrested, charged in the stabbing death of Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson, and then released today for lack of evidence issued the following statement:

To the entire Lawson Family, and especially to you Mr. and Mrs. Lawson,

More than ever today we are aware of your loss as tonight we get to hug our loved one, yet tonight you have had this simple gift taken from you. Our paths have crossed under such a tragic event and it is not fair. We do believe that both families believe in the same God and that God gives us promises that give us hope in these difficult times. Our words are not sufficient to try to bring any kind of peace to your family at this time but we do know God’s “Word” can.

For the family and friends of Josiah, “We know that God works good in all things for those that love him” so we pray you will find peace and comfort knowing that through Josiah’s tragic death, God will work good in this tragedy although we may not understand now.

Finally, to the “Community of Arcata”, we know in this world as individuals we cannot prevent all the random acts of violence that take place each day, however each of us are in control of our words and actions. If all of us would make the daily choice to perform a random act of “kindness” in our communities we would see so much healing and changes for the good.

May God Bless you Lawson Family

Earlier Chapters:



  • This is a nice gesture.

  • The hills are watching

    Better just shut this comment section down now before it gets ugly.

  • May God Bless you all. 🕊

  • I echo the sentiment, Kym. Please just shut it down. Neither Lawson’s family nor the Zoellners deserve the sewer that is the online commentariat.

    • (UGH). That’s absolutely wrong. That letter means a lot, even to me. REDHEADED BLACKBELT / Kym KEMP is the first media/ reporter/school employee/ mother/honest down to earth lady that sees the pain that even the formally accused and his family members must have went through and from what I’ve read and seen from your post, my friend, is that you are one sided and clueless. THANK YOU, KYM KEMP FOR KEEPING IT REAL. Do not shut anything down because some activist thinks you should. Prayers go out to, and for everyone involved.

  • The heartwarming aspect is dampened by the god, god god, talk.

    I wonder what police work will continue being done on this case. I hope justice is served.

    • It isn’t necessary to believe in God to understand that others find comfort in their belief in him/her. Why mock that especially as one hurting family reaches out to another? As a simple example, I tend to believe that most folks are kind and helpful. Is it really necessary to start insisting I’m wrong if I offer that belief in comfort to somebody no matter how much you might feel differently?

    • Hampered isn’t a word I would personally choose. Just the opposite, in fact.

  • I knew it wasn’t him the whole time .what hell that poor guy to have been beatin up ,and thrown in jail .I hope he recovers, and the real killer is found ,and prosicuted to the fullest extent of the law let justice be served

    • Poster formerly known as Matt

      Nothing has been proven about his innocence or guilt. There’s simply not enough evidence for a trial right now.

  • Not gonna get ugly, just truthful, kyles arrest record speaks for itself.
    If he had robbed stores and gotten out over and over people would be ranting about the jails revolving door. Yet when someone is arrested for assault numerous times and gets out over and over,no one complains.
    No ones talking about him choking out an 18 year old woman awhile back, or smashing a bottle over a colored persons head the previous wknd.
    Sorry just the truth. Maybe next time theyll actually keep him in jail, if peoples past actions are violent over and over they should be kept in jail.

    Well there will be lots of hsu graduation parties soon, we’ll see if he can stop or if getting off on all these charges makes him feel untouchable. Was he even tested for drugs when arrested??
    To his family, if the deceased persons family doesnt believe in “your same god” do you withdraw your statement?
    These court hearings with cops saying they couldnt remember if they wore gloves and “must have written down the wrong name that night ” are disgusting. Wheres the body cams for APD and HSU cops???

    • Wow his arrest record would speak volumes, but not relevant if insufficient evidence to bring a charge. A toxicology report from his blood that night would be useful. And finally, is there a record of him assaulting a person of color with a bottle the prior weekend. That would seem relevant.

  • May God bless these hurting famies and friends of all involved.💖

  • I hope the best for all involved, be safe Humco! Hug your loved ones and tell them you love them.

  • Let’s hope the culprit is identified and both families and the community can find some peace.

  • The law has been followed and executed properly by the judge. There is much to the story we believe we do not know, most likely a friend of victim or member of the brotherhood group was more involved than ever admitted. Whether Z is innocent or there was self defense initiated, the community stands behind the Humboldt court showing our system is not yet full broken or discouraged and weary from threats of racism which never was a part of this case from the beginning, and shouldn’t be used lightly as it has been against our public officials and first responders.

    • Actually, the case never went before a judge. There was no trial. The DA dropped the charges for lack of evidence. Nice thought, but not accurate.

  • Concerned citizen

    A senseless fight one little guy gets the better of one member of a club he just had him in a heat lock he asked the club member hey are you going to be polite and not hit me or my women any more he tapped with little more than his pride hurt and then members of this group / club acting as a gang.
    Knocked the Lil guy out in 15 seconds max, then beats a unconscious man and hits women in the midst this group/club members who admitted to assaulting the little guy should be charged for almost beating and now proven innocent kid, to death. Similar Dynamics were presented by the four officers charged in the Rodney King beating officers were pissed when Rodney King eluded them they nearly beat him to death when acquitted What happened then LA riots??
    Millions of dollars of damage, double standard or what.
    A club could not expect different treatment than, they wanted, expected and rioted over, years ago.
    Justice for Kyle
    As stated years ago, if it doesn’t fit you must acquit.
    The fingerprint fibers blood wasn’t his or on his clothing clearly there was somebody in the background that took misguided Justice in their own hands
    Stand tall Humboldt!!!!!!!
    infectious truths.

    • Wow his arrest record would speak volumes, but not relevant if insufficient evidence to bring a charge. A toxicology report from his blood that night would be useful. And finally, is there a record of him assaulting a person of color with a bottle the prior weekend. That would seem relevant.

    • Concerned citizen: Please, before you make comments trying to sound knowledgeable, learn proper spelling, punctuation and grammar. I have a headache just trying to understand what you were saying

  • Seeing double..

    This whole ordeal seems to echo the powder keg of the grand divide in our society that is mentioned in the news so very often.
    ALL SIDES: Be polite; always.
    It’s ok to be polite while wasted: in fact, it can be fun. Talking like some kind of “old time puritan” from the old west/south/north. Like the gentleman that Fredric Douglas, or George Washington Carver, was. Like how Pres. Carter mostly is.
    It’s not “being lower than” someone else: its realising you ARE, in situations like this, “more sheets to the wind” than you should be handling.
    PS. That Z-guy should have gone ahead and looked under the couches, with a flashlight, for that phone. I bet it was still there, under that couch/table/bookshelf/fish-tank/rug/cushion when this all got started.

  • The Ostrich Hunter

    Nice job summarizing the victim by his skin color, [edit]

    I’m waiting for them to arrest Zoellner’s girlfriend and her friend. One of whom, will most likely have finger prints on that knife.

  • I still believe a white on black murder occurred, to use terms, “Hello,” can understand. If not the little white guy, then the little white guy’s g/f or sidekick. One of you white folks is guilty of murder in this here case, imo.

    • Sleepy Alligator

      Skin color aside it seems like a typical alcohol infused brawl that unfortunately escalated into a tragic death. Skin color considered it becomes racism and of course opens the flood gates of speculation. Alcohol doesn’t see skin color. I don’t know how racists people think but I would guess that white people who hate black people most likely wouldn’t attend gatherings of mixed races.

  • I have no idea whether Zoellner stabbed Lawson, or someone else did. And there was a good deal of confusion and contradiction among the witnesses. But as the judge correctly noted, none of the witnesses said they saw the stabbing take place, and of course that means that none of them witnessed Zoellner committing the act. And the prosecution could offer no physical evidence connecting Zoellner to the crime, in fact it sounds like his fingerprints were not on the knife (though someone else’s, not yet identified, were), and there’s no indication that the knife belonged to him, nor did anyone see him with a knife. All in all, this adds up to a very, very weak case.

    So, for all I know Zoellner might be guilty as sin — but, at least at this point, the prosecution simply does not have the kind of evidence that would be required to charge and hold him and try him for the crime, and nothing even remotely approaching the level of evidence that would be required to convict him. So the judge really had no choice but to free him. If the ongoing investigation turns up solid evidence pointing to Zoellner, of course he can be re-arrested and charged at that time.

    But I think we also have to recognize a very real possibility that Zoellner is not just “innocent until proven guilty,” but is *actually* innocent of this crime. Which would mean that someone else did it, and it would mean that, up to this point, that person has escaped detection. So I hope the investigators will be looking carefully, and with an open mind, at all possibilities, and don’t just focus exclusively (or almost exclusively) on Zoellner, in an attempt to justify their initial suspicions and subsequent actions, while ignoring other leads and other potential suspects. Sadly, that does happen sometimes, I hope it doesn’t happen in this case. Because, again, if it turns out that Zoellner didn’t do it, that means someone else did, and that someone should not get away with murder any more than Zoellner should if it turns out he’s the guilty party after all.

  • Remember, no matter how de-humanizing the music they were listening to, no matter how freely the malt liquor was flowing, regardless if anyone was on Blow, ‘Lean, Molly, Thizz, or Zannys, or all 5 at once, despite the level of violence glorified, or regarded as a solution to low-level neighborhood disputes…..It was all someone else’s fault.

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