Family Asks APD for Arrest of Two Brothers Who They Alleged Beat Kyle Zoellner the Night David Josiah Lawson Was Fatally Stabbed
The family of Kyle Zoellner who was arrested, charged but eventually released for lack of evidence in the stabbing death of David Josiah Lawson has issued a statement arguing that the altercation that took place was an assault on Kyle Zoellner, not a mutual fight.
In addition, Jay Zoellner tells us that Kyle’s father met with Arcata Police and requested the arrest of Kristoff and Kyle Castillo for felony assault of Kyle Zoellner. Jay Zoellner, Kyle’s uncle, says the two along with Lawson allegedly beat Kyle Zoellner on the night of the party where Lawson was killed.
Jay Zoellner provided the statement from the family. In the statement, they alleged that Kyle was not in a mutual fight but rather was attacked. “Kyle never had a chance to defend himself,” the statement says.
There are multiple versions of the night. But most agree that Kyle Zoellner went to the party to pick up his girlfriend, Lila Ortega, and several of her friends on April 15. When he got there, Ortega began searching for her phone. This allegedly led to an altercation. During the altercation, David Josiah Lawson was fatally stabbed.
Zoellner’s family claims that Kyle was badly beaten during the same altercation. They say he was not fighting. They say he only remembers being beaten and knocked to the ground. Jay Zoellner says they are asking for two of the men who they claim have admitted to assaulting him to be charged. (See statement below for more on why). “This is a straightforward case of an assault and battery,” said Jay Zoellner.
Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman declined through a spokesperson to be interviewed. He did confirm for a press release issued by the City of Arcata that two homicide detectives from another law enforcement agency are examining the Lawson case. According to the press release, (see below for the entire document) he stated, “It’s not uncommon for agencies to take a look at an investigation from the outside, and looking at the investigative steps, make a determination if there is something more that can be done.”
The full statement from the family is below:
Message to the community from the Zoellner family:“The issue we have had since the beginning is that many public officials and others have painted a picture that Kyle was in a fight at the party which is false. There was no fight. What actually took place was a group of men beat Kyle up and Kyle never had a chance to defend himself. Once everyone realizes that a “fight” did not take place but an assault & battery did take place, people will be asking the same question we are; why has the DA not filed charges against the men that beat Kyle up?”
APD stated early in the investigation that Kyle Zoellner admitted that he was in a fight with Josiah Lawson and this was key in their “probable cause”. This statement was false as he only knew he was assaulted by a group of men.From the Hearing:Dokweiler said Zoellner told him he was punched and knocked to the ground, and after that the next thing he remembers clearly is being led to a police car.From the Hearing:Under cross-examination by Deputy Public Defender Kelly Neel, Castillo said Zoellner was not being aggressive.“I’m not going to lie; he was not at all,” Castillo testified. But he said Ortega’s attitude made him angry..But Kristoff Castillo, Kyle Castillo’s brother, testified he believed Zoellner was unconscious when the Castillos,Lawson and Bobadillo left the party.Kyle Castillo said they walked away from the scene of the altercation, conflicting earlier testimony by Ortega and Wilkins that they’d stuck around to pummel Zoellner.
Press release from the Arcata City Council containing Chapman’s statement.
At its meeting on Wednesday evening, the Arcata City Council approved a community reward program for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the April 15 homicide of David Josiah Lawson. Community members have donated $21,000 to establish the fund. According to Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman, the APD has had success with reward programs in the past and will continue to accept funds for the Lawson case reward.
Award eligibility requires that the information provided leads directly to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. If more than one person provides identical information, the reward will be equally divided amongst those people.
Chief Chapman spoke about David Josiah Lawson’s murder investigation at the meeting. “This is absolutely an open and ongoing case… It is being worked on literally every day. We continue to interview and identify witnesses,” said Chapman. “Confidentially is an important part of criminal investigations, which I know can be frustrating.We are 100 percent committed to the investigation as are our allied agencies.”
Chapman confirmed the California Department of Justice’s involvement in the case, stating that the DOJ is providing forensic support but will not supply investigative support until local resources are exhausted. Locally, the APD has partnered with the Humboldt County District Attorney and Sheriff’s offices, the Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt State University Police Department to review, evaluate and analyze the investigation. Chief Chapman also confirmed that an outside agency from a large city that did not want to be named has committed two experienced homicide detectives to the Lawson case. “It’s not uncommon for agencies to take a look at an investigation from the outside, and looking at the investigative steps, make a determination if there is something more that can be done,” said Chapman. “That is in process.”
Anyone with information regarding David Josiah Lawson’s murder is urged to call the Arcata Police Department at (707) 822-2428 during normal business hours, or (707) 822-2424 after hours and on weekends.
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