Family Asks APD for Arrest of Two Brothers Who They Alleged Beat Kyle Zoellner the Night David Josiah Lawson Was Fatally Stabbed

Kyle Zoellner: Personal photo and mugshot after his arrest.

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?”

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.

Earlier Chapters:

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146 comments

  • They should also be charged with accessory , if they wouldn’t have assaulted Kyle, Lawson would more then likely still be alive. In ca if you commit a felony and someone loses their life, then all party’s involved are equally responsible. My guess is the truth would come out if that happened, But I guess some accountability is better than none.

    • It appears the Zoellner family sent this to be posted so the public could read and process the above information and then make a decision whether or not to put pressure on the authorities to perform their duties in a responsible fashion. Unfortunately it appears from the comments below that emotions continue to override most people’s thinking and this board has become once again a discussion of racism. I would challenge everyone that reads the above statements that the Zoellner’s have posted and make comments based on objective thinking based on the facts that are known. I find it interesting that the Zoellner family has never mention black VS white or that any racism was involved in this tragedy in any of the statements.

      • Why are you responding to my post? I have never mentioned race. I’m pointing out that we have laws for this kind of act in ca and none are being applied for some reason, I find that disturbing,

  • It looks like there is a case to be made that Lawson was stabbed accidentally by someone trying to stab Zoellner.

    • I disagree Seamus. If there were 3 or 4 people attacking Kyle…there would be NO reason to pull out a large knife, the guy was already subdued. It has always been my opinion, that one of the females he was with, or someone else at the party, grabbed a knife from the kitchen in the house, attempted to stop the attack, then threw the weapon under the car where it was discovered.

      • Your theory makes more sense than most. Forgive me for not going back and reading all the many posts on this subject, but i wonder… where is the owner of the house in this matter? Or the resident tenant? Somebody who lived there ought to recognize the knife if it came from that kitchen. (Which still wouldn’t tell us who used it, but would pretty much rule out the idea of someone coming to the party with murderous intentions.)

    • It’s more like someone in Lawsons
      ” brotherhood group” was jealous or at differences about lawsons’ position in his ” leadership group”
      Most likely a close friend or aquaitance of David took advantage of the chaos.

    • That’s ridiculous. He was stabbed multiple times, how could that be accidental. I think everyone is overthinking it. It’s pretty obvious Kyle did it, he was getting an ass whipping and pulled out a knife. A bunch of drunk idiots (-both groups-) and shit happened. I really have a hard time w him whining about a few black eyes- can’t take a punch?

      • Where did he hide the 10 inch knife that did not have his fingerprints or clothes fibers on it? In his teeth?

      • Obviously not that obvious, if that happened he would have to be a frigin ninja there were 3 people beating him unconscious and none saw it. As well as bystanders. And then he unconsciously hid the knife under the car, cleaned all the blood off himself and wiped his prints off the knife? Yep pretty obvious.

      • Try fighting three black dudes when you’re not expecting it Emily that’s what knives or for to protect yourself

      • You truly need three black dudes kicking your ass bitch. Then we’ll see what you have to say

        • No I agree that’s why he stabbed him. That’s my point [edit].

        • HA HA HA Hello.

          I have. More than 3, more than once, and more one ethnic group..
          I may have had my ass beaten a couple times.. but I pulled no knife.. everyone lived to fight another day.

          Tell us about that one time you beat three dudes with a knife…. was Tom Cruise there to help?

      • Patrick J Walsh

        Wow, let’s see you get jumped by a group of people, get knocked unconscious and be ok with it.

      • Love to hear you say that if it was you. Ever been stomped unconscious Emily? Ever been in a fist fight? That’s what I thought. Arrest those pieces of shit!

      • Yes Emily, we wouldn’t want to think too much now would we?

    • Yep josaih had that knife in his waistband…..

      • I challenge you to go find a 10-inch kitchen knife (I did) and then slide it into a waistband or the pocket of some pants. Putting it either place seems to make you likely to stab yourself. A coat pocket is possible maybe.

  • Why has the DA not filed charges against the men that beat Kyle up?

    My guess is because that would be viewed as “racist”. Being politically correct these days means turning a blind eye to the ill behaviors of minorities and granting them special treatment in the name of “equality.”

    • These comment sections are ridiculous and it makes my stomach turn every time I see an article like this. There is a child dead and we are spending time worrying about a kid who got beat up at a party!???

      • Then don’t read them if you can’t handle it. Yes it’s terrible the young man lost his life, the truth needs to come out and people need to be held accountable for their actions. Otherwise chaos ensues like we have now. But that doesn’t give anyone immunity to a crime they committed unless they are cooperating with the authoritys. Life’s tough wake up.

      • Yes, because when you get beat up at a party you will expect justice for your beating whether any children died that day or not.

      • Its a pretty damned important part of the story.

      • Yep. Kyle could have easily been killed. But that would not have mattered. Hes white and privileged. Lol

      • Veterans friend

        These actions are connected. There is a child dead because a phone is worth more than a life to some people.

      • Lol, ya some people care more about an innocent victim then a openly racist man who got hurt while violently assaulting someone with his friends because they didn’t like how his girlfriend asked about a phone. I never have, nor will I ever think of a drunk driver killing himself as a victim and I can’t see a violent assalient as a victim. This was not the first time in Josiah’s short stay in Humboldt that he and two other black friends assaulted a single white male in front of his wife. The people that assaulted Zoellner are violent, short tempered, proud racist and I hope they get the other two off the streets so that Arcata is safe again.

    • Plenty of fights happen at college parties. The issue isn’t who gave poor little Kyle a black eye, its who killed the other guy. It isn’t about race, why try to make it that way?

    • Muddle: Check the prison population of this nation and make-up thereof. 1 in 3 black men will be in prison or on paper at least once in his life. The blind eyes are yours.

    • There is bound to be some of that (collateral damage and reactions swinging in the opposite direction of wrongs perpetrated for generations) AND THAT IS THE PRICE for treating people heinously for generations; another good reason not to do so. There is so much damage from how we have treated and are treating people and we have no way of knowing how long it will take to heal. Injuries take far longer to heal often than they did to inflict.

  • These are pretty reasonable and insightful comments, so far.

  • What ever happened to the good ol days where we didn’t want the whole area knowing our lives and we handled things ourselves

    • Then came the lawyers…

    • The good all days we didn’t have black people jumping white people three on one. I’m sure Kyle could’ve handled himself just fine had he known he was going to fight one black person but three on one when he wasn’t expecting anything come on tough guy.

      • Um yes we did, people have been jumping people for millennia regardless of race, and the continual use of “blacks” makes you sound racist and mutes any point your trying to make.

        • The blacks themselves keep pointing out their separateness , so which is it? See color or not? I was actually called racist once because I said, truthfully, that I form opinion based on character, not color. Because I didn’t acknowledge color I was called racist, that I was denying reality. With some reactionaries, I guess you can’t say anything without being offensive somehow.

          • Yes I know it’s ridiculous

          • Now you’ve been called a racist (at least actually) Twice. “The Blacks”. Are you f’n kidding???????

          • Blacks and others, who are acknowledging how color has been used, point out the separateness that has been socially sanctioned by people in power against those with none for generations; the scars of which are angry and tough. You were denying that treatment its repercussions and lingering aspects and THAT is why your racism, aka indifference, was pointed out to you.

      • In the good old days we massacred Wiyot women and children. Fuck the good old days! And, fuck racist Humboldt [edit]. All of you.

        • hahaha as you call people “crackers”. Funny when white hating people call other people racists.

      • Veterans friend

        Right. In the “old days” black people knew better than to go to a party where there were white people because they would be lynched.

  • Usually people that are knocked out and don’t get help end up choking on their own blood and dying why the hell are these people not held liable for jumping Kyle this is b******t white lives matter. It’s OK for a black man or three black men to hurt the white boy this is the most b******t I’ve ever seen.

    • You have no idea how troubling I find comments where the race of the people involved appears of great importance to the commenter but I can’t figure out why…Isn’t behavior more important than color?

      • Sleepy Alligator

        Absolutely!

      • Kim its just artistic ranting by low class trolls with nothing better to do. thanks for your paper.

      • No kim. This is clearly a race thing. Its reverse racism. Period. BLM movement crap once again. Just think if a black kid “might” have killed a white kid with no evidence and white people went to the streets protesting with a lynch mob style demanding the black kid be put in jail. Thats f&@kn racism, right?? That is a question! But “we” tolerate this….. please

        • It for sure has become about race. But “why the hell are these people not held liable for jumping Kyle this is b******t white lives matter. It’s OK for a black man or three black men to hurt the white boy this is the most b******t I’ve ever seen” unnecessarily adds to that. The same concern about three against one could have been expressed without adding the race of the alleged attackers into it.

          Maybe folks who are worried about “reverse racism” should stop bringing race into the discussion unnecessarily?

          • If a black man had the shit kicked out of him until he was unconscious by three white men, and was then thrown in jail and accused of murder, only to later be exonerated. Al Sharpton, the national media and everyone else, white or black, would be demanding justice for the poor black man who was slandered and senselessly beaten unconscious. The three whites would automatically be assumed racist without question. The issue wouldn’t die until the three white, automatically assumed racists, were brought to justice. THAT IS A FACT!
            Race is INVARIABLY brought up when it’s white on black. The double standard is sickening. So yes, it is totally “necessary” and within perfect context to bring reverse racism into this discussion.

            • I don’t think it is inevitable that black men are treated more fairly than white men. (Did you know that just recently a black man went to jail for shooting a white man who came unwanted into the home the black man was in and threatening him?–My guess is that you didn’t but I covered it. Brian Swan spent months in the Humboldt County jail for defending himself and his small daughter with a gun. The case received only minor notice. http://kymkemp.com/2017/02/17/case-against-man-on-trial-for-shooting-intruder-dismissed/)

              I’m pretty sure there is a double standard but not the one you are talking about.—
              https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/18/mass-incarceration-black-americans-higher-rates-disparities-report

              https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/us/wrongful-convictions-race-exoneration.html?_r=0

              http://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/color-of-justice-racial-and-ethnic-disparity-in-state-prisons/

              • Your story about a black man shooting a white man and going to jail for it is anecdotal and utterly meaningless. I’m sure it’s protocol when someone gets shot to take them to jail. And after all, he was exonerated wasn’t he? Perhaps there was no outcry for the black shooter because his race wasn’t mentioned in the article. Anyway, the Zoellner case is not an apt comparison.

                Your Guardian link and sentencing project link only show that blacks are imprisoned at higher rates than whites. Again, these statistics are meaningless; blacks commit more crime than whites, so, of course they have higher incarceration rates. More men are locked up then women; more young than old. Does that mean the system is biased against young men? Of course not. Young men commit more crime; there is a variety of reasons why.

                Your link to NY times, again, proves nothing. Half of the people exonerated are black because they commit at least half the crime. In fact, if racist cops are locking up innocent black people, how come more than half of the exonerated aren’t black? Is it a grand conspiracy to keep them locked up because they’re black? Please!

                I never said that it was inevitable that black men are treated more fairly. I said that if the colors had been reversed, there would be an outcry for the maligned black man. From the very beginning of this debacle there was non stop outrage and talk of racism where no proof existed, right on down to the EMT’s. White people were chided by black AND WHITE alike about their inherent racism while blacks used terms like cracker, including on this site, with impunity.
                As a journalist, it is your job to point out the facts. And the facts are that a disproportionate amount of violent crime is committed here in Humboldt, and around the country, by blacks. There is AMPLE evidence of this. Ignoring it and chalking everything up to racism is the last vestige of a coward. The problem of VIOLENT, black crime will never be solved by denying it’s existence and making up pathetic, debunked excuses like: it’s because of poverty; it’s because of racism.

                https://youtu.be/TVBJ5m3sGfk

                • Well that just makes way too much sense. You must be racist or privileged or something.

              • Wow! Thanks for posting this, had no idea …had not heard about that. Sad. Wrong.

            • Thank you! Rollin21

          • That would clear the haze. I agree. We all need to focus on the evidence of the crime and some true reports of what happened from EVERYONE that was there. Race has clearly fogged this investigation on BOTH sides. Two crimes have been committed here, not just one. Deal with it APD! Ps. Thanx for feedback kym

        • Wait a second! There are a lot of truly innocent young black guys in prison all over our country. Because racism is real and a black guy always “looks good” for the crime. Then they don’t have $$ for a decent lawyer and the system is stacked against them. Like you-I am also concerned that APD is acting more politically correct and avoiding their job but …racism against black skin does exist and black guys often get the short end of the justice system.

        • Buzzard, I appreciate your speaking up no matter not in a group who shares your viewpoint. I am white and I have been subjected to what you are referring to as “Reverse racism”; I was singled out for being white and attacked among other things.
          However, what happened to me (more than once BTW) was a result of the horrendous treatment of blacks for so long, the repercussions of which are going to to be as chaotic as the behavior that caused them. Breed hatred and hatreds offspring will spread. Moreover, I’d had more protection if our culture provided more support for EVERYONE, especially the vulnerable (young, poor, elderly, and long standing oppressed) – my lack of protection was due to the same community disregard as that shown towards racism but mine was relatively minor compared to what someone who has to live in perpetual fear and defensiveness just because of their skin color.

          AND guess what, what I experienced was reactive racism and not reverse nor a mirror image of systemic racism. What I experienced was antidotal, a relatively rare and isolated experience after which I was able to freely be in society without bias and in fact given preference (though I was neither conscious of it nor seeking it) for being white or at least enjoyed the freedom of not being persecuted perpetually for my skin color. I could turn on a tv and see people “Like me” in many roles and read history where “We” included me and total strangers did not IN MASS look at me and treat me badly. I did not turn on a tv or look in magazines and see people “Like me” portrayed only as athletes, criminals or entertainers and servants nor did I come from a long history I couldn’t even trace because my ancestors were bred like live stock, raped and not allowed to read or write without fear of being murdered, more fear than they lived with already just for the skin color.

          Times are tough and there is a sense of scarcity and THAT is likely what you are suffering from, angry about; better to get to the core source of your pain than use scapegoats who have been treated worse than livestock for generations and are just now crawling out of the trenches with wounds we have no experience of whatsoever.

      • They were raised by racists. It’s a family tradition kinda thing.

        • Its a need to belong by excluding others…prevalent in many ways besides racism. Sometimes when i hear people go on and on about the importance of family it seems to me somewhat imploded and myopic and indifferent to community; like I’m gonna provide for MY own only. How’s that working for us? Not well I’d say.

    • Come on, what’s the matter Kyle can’t defend himself? He had his girlfriend there with mace and he’s going to play the victim? Give me a break. anyone who knows Kyle and friends, knows they are tweaker trash. It’s obvious what really went down here. Kyle or his girl brought a knife to a fistfight, everything points to them doing the deed. Don’t play the victim card, don’t play us for fools.

      • And, I have to say, it’s not a black vs. white issue. It’s just a bunch of stupid drunk kids at a party. It’s happened plenty over the years with only white kids. Let’s not let our stupidity show so much huh neighbors?

      • Tweeker trash is a term that is cruel. No matter who wrong or messed up he is your use of terms like that only breeds more hate; akin to the attitude that perpetuates racism.

  • And even if Kyle did stab the black boy he had it coming his friends admitted he was friendly not trying to fight but they just jumped in three black dudes jumped in because that’s what blacks do.

    • Lord have mercy, you do take stereotypes pretty seriously don’t you. Ever know any black people?

      • Sleepy Alligator

        I know what I’m about to say won’t sit well with some people but I’m gonna say it because I know that I’m not racist, I think anyone who is racist is just an uneducated moron. As wrong and unacceptable as stereotypes are the reality is there’s truth in many of them and that’s exactly why they exist. That may not make sense to anyone who hasn’t personally been affected by some type of stereotypical behavior, but for anyone who has I think they would agree.

        • Labeling White people as racists is a stereotype
          Hard to ignore stereotypes, especially when experiences that confirm them stick out the most, but that’s the goal for myself
          Have to treat people on an individual basis

        • *eyeroll* if a stereotyped group does a stereotyped behavior, say, recycling, then bigots say its because they are a member of that group. If someone else recycles, then they say the person just likes to be socially responsible. Stereotypes mostly exist to dehumanize people and justify treating them a certain way. They are useless otherwise as humans vary so much. If you are clinging to stereotypes, maybe ask yourself why.

          • Sleepy Alligator

            I’m not familiar with the “recycling” stereotype or what group it applies to. Seems like being stereotyped as a recycler would not be a bad thing. I mean who’s gonna see a person from that group walking down the street and be like ” There goes one of those damn recyclers!”

          • True but also- We humans are always organizing our thoughts and classifying people, plants, animals and things so we can survive and thrive. It’s basic. Also we have old tribal instincts that served us well in surviving for thousands of years. That’s where stereotyping comes from. And it can make sense on a large scale. Ex- Dude is Orthodox Jew so maybe don’t try doing business with him on a Saturday….We will continue organizing to make sense of our world. We should only get concerned when small minds think the stereotype applies to every individual or when skin color, religion, political affiliation, etc defines an individual’s character. But fighting our innate organizational or tribal drives …losing battle. Transform and retrain those drives may work better.

        • – there is absolutely no “truth” in any stereotype. Not the kind of truth that applies in a police investigation. If you think there is than you don’t know the difference between reality and fiction. A stereotype is an abstraction, an attempt to show the typical, or the average. But no actual person fits that mold. We come in many shapes and forms. The average age of the commenters here may be 47 years 3months 5days, but it’s highly unlikely that anyone of us is that exact age. The people who were involved in this event are individuals, they aren’t stereotypes, they are real people, each one different from the other. Esme is right, stereotypes dehumanize.

        • Racism = ignorance. No surprise, then, that the congenitally narrow minded Conservative would be racist.

        • Yes we have to make generalizations and judgements; the key may be KNOWING we are doing so and therefore there being a hope in hell of adjusting those when presented with other evidence or better yet actively seeking to check ourselves when assumptions are potentially dangerous. Also, understanding our own vested interest in perpetuating generalizations goes along way towards keeping them as true as possible.

      • “Hello” didn’t answer that one. Wonder what his response would be?

      • Have you?? You obviously have lived up here too long and have never lived down there. 3 on 1 is the norm in some communities. Fair fights went out with the 90’s and youtube videos. Like they say, “If you haven’t lived it all you have is an educated guess”. Just another dumboldt that thinks they’re well rounded when in fact their world is too small to be well rounded. An honest man has no friends. You need to live it before you have an opinon on it.

        • Whelp, I haven’t lived in Oakland since 1992 so things could have changed. But the folks I know who are black seem decent or jerky in about the same proportion as white folks.

      • This is why I love you Kym. Lots of folks raised some pretty racist kids here..

    • “…he had it coming…” “…because that’s what blacks do…”. No racism there. /s. No humanity there, either. Your hate becomes you.

    • You are describing human beings as if they were as predictable as mosquitos ….your narrow assumptions are clouding your capacity to see realistically; sad and dangerous.

  • Isn’t the NAACP trying to stop all comments because of color race this is crap Black people and all their prejudice have made me prejudice I never was before

    • Nobody makes you prejudiced. You can make the choice to overcome the stereotypes around you and look for what really happened. It’s hard but the world is a better place if we try.

      • Thinking allowed

        Experience can make a racist. Fear certainly does. It takes courage to ignore both to act on principles no matter what. Having such experience or even fear is not the part that is wrong.

        Sometime great courage, and clear insight as to what those principles are,is needed, where the group you depend on yourself or simply wish to support is offended by the lack of knee jerk approval of bad behavior in themselves. Being victimized does not mean innocent. Not being a victim does confer guilt either.

        And even more difficult is finding that principles put you on the same side at times with people you find repugnant, who have chosen the same course based on ugly ideas which are not your reasons. It’s a tough world.

      • Veterans friend

        Kym, people ARE carefully taught to be racist & prejudiced. No one is born that way, but they are carefully & persistently and subtly taught. Prejudice is learned behavior.

        • I agree that people are taught to be prejudiced But I think that no one makes you stay that way. If you keep trying, you can keep breaking away from that.

          • No one makes you stay ignorant. That’s a bad choice the peabrain makes. Being racist (ignorant) might be effected by ancestry but it certainly is a conscious choice to equate skin color with worth.

          • Thinking allowed

            I think it is a lovely idea on which the ideals of liberals often founder. People are not innately without prejudices. Quite the opposite. They are born with limited prejudices, such as diet, dirty diapers and who is safe to hold them but are born to develop them right and left as they grow up.

            People will be prejudiced about everything- religion or lack of it, color, height, sex, employment, smell, clothing, diet, etc. They overcome this biological need to sort by reasoning, not by denying their existence.

            This is why harangue and bullying have the exact opposite effect in encouraging a specific lack of prejudice. In fact why it just more sharply hardens unwanted prejudice.

  • I think where they are from is more important than race. One was from Southern California and the other was from Concord in the Bay Area. 2 people from the the city come to ruralish humboldt and now it is made out like this is a local problem with racism, sounds like exactly the opposite is true to me

  • >” … but I can’t figure out why…Isn’t behavior more important than color?”

    Well, true enough. They should have been arrested the first night…
    as well as the women who were (allegedly) fighting. Sort it out in court.

    Unfortunately, political ‘crap’ raises it’s head.

    But… I wonder who’s fingerprint was on the knife?
    Nobody’s talking… but somebody knows.

    • In my opinion, if they would have arrested and separately professionally questioned everyone involved that night, like they are trained to do, we would have the truth already.

    • That fingerprint is very important evidence. Wish there was a way to get everyone’s prints who were at the party. But I guess that can’t be done. It seems like it is going to be more difficult, as time goes by, to ever find out whose print it is.

      If, after the first 48hours, the chances of solving the murder are cut in half, I wonder what the chances of finding the murderer(s) are now.

  • 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.

    – and what did he conveniently forget that he did during that missing time? Maybe get up and stab and kill somebody?

  • Emily………YOU are what’s wrong with so many people regarding our ‘public’ justice system. You haven’t a clue what actually happened, but you “know” Kyle did it. I hope you are never on a jury. You are looking for a quick arrest and quick justice for Josiah. If this takes a year to find the real suspect, it will be worth the true justice. People here have just pointed out many possibilities of what happened, which are all possibilities; including maybe Kyle being guilty. In the meantime, stop pretending like you know who did it. True justice for Josiah will be when the real killer is arrested, whether Black or White. But, those who beat Zoellner, who have admitted doing it, also need to be held accountable for their actions. Although one ended in a death, there were two criminal acts that need justice.

    • I actually do know the people involved. Of course I don’t know what really happened, I wasn’t there and neither were you, but it’s pretty obvious. Most of you guys are over thinking it. He was getting his ass kicked and squared up w a knife. Story as old as time. Don’t hurt your brain overthinking it.

      • I have never said I was there, nor made an accusation as to the guilty party. You, on the other hand, “ASSUME” because someone got their ass kicked, they have to be the one who stabbed Josiah. How about if a friend saw him getting his ass kicked and grabbed the knife from Kyle and stabbed Josiah. Possibility?????? Yes ! As of now, there is no ‘obvious’ suspect, just people who would have a reason; which would never hold up in a courtroom. That is how innocent people end up in jail. People jumping to a conclusion based on ‘assumptions’. You might be right, but IF it is someone besides Kyle, won’t you look ???????????

    • The police might not be fast , but there not stupid, and they live here too. you think they want who ever did this walking around. someone one out there wants the reward. they will get who ever did this. there just building a case.

      • Disagree. The police are dumb as sin. Always have been.

      • Not exactly. The majority of police “work” these days is like barrel fishing.. rushing up on and sticking their hands in assumed drug addicts/ dealers pockets, all day speed traps, seatbelt pension revenue collection tickets.. Just another gang “serving and protecting” their partners. The amount of cops that can do actual police work (write a proper warrant, testify in court, develop and use informants, perform a proper retroactive investigation) past, gone, too much work. In a college town like Arcata it would be interesting to know how many assault cases stay open and how many rapes end up dropped altogether..

        Have you ever noticed how fat most of these guys are?? No wonder they’re so quick with the weapons.

        Too many bad actors. The movie sucks.

  • Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P.

    I feel bad for the parents…

    could not even imagine what they are going through.

  • I think it’s in bad taste to come up with these complaints almost two months after the fact. You (Zoellners) say, “Why didn’t APD file charges immediately?” I didn’t know the police dept. was supposed to come in to private parties and arrest people and have them charged unless someone complains and asks them to. Nobody called the cops saying, “Omigod, we’ve got a guy who’s been hit with fists or kicked, he’s alive–come arrest the people who beat him up.” Instead someone called saying, “We’ve got a dead guy who’s been stabbed multiple times.” The needs of the living guy are comparatively insignificant.
    To make a ruckus now about non-fatal injuries from two months ago suggests “they doth protest too much” to me. Have some grace and let it go! It was a late-night party full of wasted people, and you went in making untrue accusatory suggestions, or asking unfounded accusatory questions. Why do you want “justice” for the consequences of that… why not just take it as a life lesson? Especially in light of the real tragedy that you were involved in, directly or indirectly.
    It looks like a way of deflecting blame by making yourself the “victim,” and muddying the already murky waters.

    • Good perspective. Quite insightful.

    • To be fair, no one seems to have accused Kyle of asking about the phone in an aggressive manner. Here’s what the Lost Coast has from the preliminary hearing: ““(Kyle Zoellner) came up to me and said ‘Yo, have you seen my girl’s phone,’” Kyle Castillo testified today. When he and the others said no, Ortega reportedly responded, “Bullshit. I know you have my phone.” Castillo said Ortega demanded they turn their pockets out. They all refused.

      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.”

      So, if the Zoellner family believes that Kyle did nothing to warrant an attack but was attacked anyway because of something his girlfriend said, then he was beat up, then he was thrown in jail, then people still think he murdered someone that he didn’t (not saying he didn’t–just saying this is how the Zoellner family perceives this), don’t you think that they might be a wee bit frustrated?

      • Fair enough, Kym! But… the whole thing of being an aggressive female, and asking your boyfriend to get something for you that you couldn’t get yourself. If you think about it… Kyle was a tool whose maleness, apparently, was supposed to get results that her gender didn’t get. That in itself suggests Kyle’s job was to be a little tougher than his girlfriend… and she sounds tough enough! So no matter how politely he may have asked, his question would have been met with, “Oh, here’s Mr. Tough Guy, getting the little lady’s phone back for her!”
        Not to say that deserves a beating. Just saying, lesser offenses have gotten people in fights at drunken 3 a.m. parties.

        • I think it’s pretty rough, if Kyle is innocent–and according to our law, he is to be treated as if he were innocent until proved otherwise—, to accuse his family of having bad taste for wanting justice for what they believe is an assault.

          It may not be an assault but to their way of thinking it is—an assault that reportedly knocked him unconscious and sent him to the hospital.

          • Well that’s a kind way to look at it… trying to see their side. But when i try to put myself in Kyle’s shoes, i think i would have been screaming about it from Day One… as they dragged me away, and someone even mentioned that i was being arrested for murder, i would have said with vehement indignation, “WTH? I’ve just been assaulted, lucky i didn’t die too, and you’re accusing ME of murder?” and pointed at the guys who beat me. Instead, he let himself be taken away and charged… and all these weeks of talk and hassle and rumination, and courtroom hearing, etc… now that they’ve had time to think about it, it’s “Oh yeah… and now that it turns out there’s no real evidence to connect me with the murder, how about we turn the tables and make ME the victim?” I don’t know. Just my opinion.

            • Laura…C’mon, be fair. When law enforcement wants to arrest you, fighting them is not the best response. “he let himself be taken away and charged???!!!” That is totally unfair. I don’t suspect anyone guilty or innocent gladly lets themselves be taken away and be charged. It happens against their will.

              He responded like someone might who found their whole world turned upside down. He got an attorney and said he wasn’t guilty. He’s focused on fighting for his freedom for quite awhile.

              I don’t have any special knowledge of whether or not he is guilty or whether or not the incident went down like his family alleges. But, if I were in his shoes and innocent, I don’t think I would have behaved much differently than he did.

              • Well, i certainly wouldn’t have fought the cops! But i would have said something… would have wanted to be on the record–video, written, whatever, from the get-go–saying “Wait a minute, what about the people who beat me up? They’re the violent ones!” or something. Unless i were feeling that i was in a serious bind, having just been so close to… so easily implicated in… a murder. Heck, if i were knocked out when the stabbing happened, i am sure the first thing i would have said upon waking up being dragged away to a police car, was “What happened? What murder? Did i miss something?” etc. Not protest two months later.
                But i don’t want to argue with you, Kym, i guess i’ve made my point. Sorry for what seems a hard view. Good night!

                • I’m with you on this one Laura.

                • How do we know what he said at the time? It isn’t common that law enforcement posts those arguments from the suspect. I’d guess that most people guilty or innocent say they are innocent.

                  Lawyers usually tell the defendant not to speak to the media which is the only way their story gets told. Otherwise, the info usually comes from law enforcement which, no matter how good they are, comes from their point of view which is that the person they arrested is guilty.

  • Emily so you know the people involved and you still want to condemn Kyle but you were not there. So because your friends are telling their side,you can be sure they are telling the absolute truth.

  • If he did square up with a knife three guys on one is when you square up with a knife but he didn’t do it I’m sure of that I wasn’t there neither were you Probably Josias girlfriend stabbed the wrong person.

  • No matter what,A young collage student is dead. He friends,family are mourning!! My kids went their,so like many parents are saying the same thing why? We all want to get to the truth.the party responsible isn’t talking till they find them. So unless you were their don’t make matters worse,if that’s possible

  • The Ostrich Hunter

    Ortega has more involvement than “I politely asked these random guys if they stole my phone..”.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if she, or one of her friends, stabbed Lawson.

  • Thinking allowed

    I’ve been too surprised too many times at who did what and why to be as sure of everything as some people seem to be here. A rush to convict and a rush to excuse are both ugly.

    This murder is not a televison drama where the writers create simple solutions with popular beliefs winning out, all within the hour time slot.

  • Possible scenario

    Has the APD thought about the fact that we have a stabber in Arcata that has not been apprehended? I believe it is a drug dealer. Remember the woman stabbed on the plaza? She won’t name her stabber. I think it is her dealer. She should have died from those wounds…can’t believe she survived. This drug dealer could have brought party favors and something went awry.

  • I wish Ernie branscomb would tell us his theory .I think Emily did it ,but whoever did it .It wasn’t Kyle he was unconscious how the hell can you stab anyone he was knocked out.even if it was Kyle it was in self defence . I don’t know if the victim was involved with the beating, but someone should diffenitly be held accountable .kyle probably has PTSD,and the poor kid gets nothing .

    • Mogtex: Most every time I read something you typed, it sounds ignorant and racist. The bottom line is that you don’t know shit about what really happened but you sure waste a lot of pixels pointing that out.

      Kyle couldn’t do it because he was knocked out and if he did it was self defense? Do you realize how stupid that statement is? If people at a party show their azz to the point that multiple others intervene, that doesn’t make it self defense for the ones starting the fight.

      Soem folks need a tree to fall on their head to knock some sense into them, but it appears that in this case, there is no old growth specimen in Humboldt large enough to do the trick.

  • I don’t know why everyone is conveniently forgetting about the people who impeded the EMS, shouldn’t they have some responsibility for deliberately delaying potential life saving services?

    • Yeah, Mike, I’m sure that was their intention… To deliberately delay life saving services. One question.. Do you even know the meaning of the word, “deliberate?” I’m only spit balling here, but I’d guess most folks at that there party were in shock after seeing their friend dying in a pool of blood. Imo, there isn’t much in the way of “deliberate actions,” made by people suffering from shock at the sight of a friend’s murder. Those people were probably mostly on auto pilot at the time.

      A person was murdered. That is probably the deliberate act in this story that needs to be scrutinized.. Btw, the entire event can be laid out without reference to skin color or place of origin. There was party, accusations of a stolen phone, a fight, mace, a knife, and a death. So simple, but yet apparently so difficult for some.

  • This has become a very difficult case, mainly due to APD’s handling of it. APD should have cordoned off the area and contained as many people as possible when they realized a serious crime had occurred. They then should have identified everyone there and taken a statement before releasing them. Standard police procedure. The APD Chief further degraded the case when the Chief’s statement failed to state “alleged” when referring to Kyle Zoellner as the murderer, and arresting him before all the evidence was in. Now the APD has to bring outside experience in, which may have been forced on them by our state California Department of Justice. No one, including LEO’s, like having outsiders clean up their mess. Monday morning quarterbacking and finger pointing doesn’t do much for solving this case, at this point. It’s only useful to help the APD act more professional in the future. Regardless of how race played out in this, race is clouding the issue. Emotions in this case run high, and good, logical thought just doesn’t occur easily when the race card is played.

    I grew up in Arcata. The approach APD takes in favoring HSU students over local’s is not new. I remember it happening several times in the early 70’s. Something the APD has never corrected, apparently.

    Regardless of who stabbed David Josiah Lawson, if Kyle Zoellner was in fact assaulted by three other men, regardless of ethnicity, the alleged attackers should be brought to justice.

    The knife found is of course now known to be the weapon, or known to not be the weapon, that resulted in David Josiah Lawson’s death, and his killer should also be brought to justice. If no match to the print can be found in police, drivers license, or any other databank, then Lawson’s justice may take awhile, if ever. Regardless of anyone being a “tweaker”, if Kyle Zoellner’s prints are not on the knife, then standard police procedure requires looking for who’s print is on it, if it is in fact the weapon.

    There were many people at that party. Someone should know something that they are not telling. Increasing the reward may be the best chance at getting to the truth. Even getting cooperating witnesses to name those present would be helpful, as the investigating authority could question them and then match them against prints on the knife. Anyone not willingly supplying their prints would look questionable, and would lead to further investigation.

    All of the discussion about race shows me that there is indeed a problem with race, although it appears to be in the responses here on this blog more than at the party. In the heat of the moment racism raises its ugly head, and while some of those at the party do not appear to be innocent of racism, those that do not like others because of their race were free to leave at any time.

    It is difficult to make the decision to get involved and fight someone when a fight is in progress. I know because I had to do it once, years ago. The attacker was twice the size of my friend, and he was going to kill him, I believed, by choking him to death. None of my friend’s other friends did anything. No one tried to stop it. Only me. It scarred the poop out of me, as the big attacker had another buddy with him, also twice as big. Also, they were both marines, trained in hand to hand fighting. It was over a girlfriend, which is why this case reminded me of it. It all happened so quickly, perhaps in less than two minutes. My response was a few seconds. We were all somewhat drunk.

    At least one person knows the truth, and many more want to also know the truth. That in itself shows me people care, so there it some hope.

    To those that believe black people are all bad, and everyone else, keep in mind that there was no gun play involved. The three men were not armed. Nor was Kyle Zoellner. Everyone there was just there to have a good time. Had anyone there been armed, regardless of race, this could have been much worse. It would be like other areas where lethal violence is used to settle disputes, and is a very big reason people like living on the north coast. Solving this case would do much to keep it that way and allow our children to have fun and party as most of us all did when younger and not feel the need to arm themselves against potential violence. The escalation of a fight to the use of lethal violence is very bad.

    Violence is not the answer.

    Don’t we all feel this way? Perhaps we should.

    Again, a very difficult case.

  • CartOnTopOfHorse

    Everyone thinks what they want in their own mind regardless ,there is no way to change that. The PC filter is only on what they say. It’s your life think how you want. Stand up to the grief and shame.

  • Possible scenario

    Names are important and I just realized something. Does anyone know if this Lila Ortega is related to Detective Chris Ortega of the APD?

  • scooter you sure got to rant.

  • Well well well, check out all the new commenters commenting rubbish ever since the last great debate on whether or not to censor in favor of a … group.

    How about we leave the corrupt politics behind and get back to the heart of the matter of a life wasted. Who did it is far more important than why. The why is as individual as the why nots. Holding the community hostage to a group’s version of why and why not is … politics.

    Don’t make me call Angela Landsbury or Inspector Kluso. Let’s get this solved!

  • How about the first 48 (days).

  • This dude should shut up. A man is dead. Police should focus on finding the murderer.

  • Thinking allowed

    One trouble with not addressing the arrested man’s complaint about the beating at the time of the murder will be the use it will be put to by defense attorneys if he is eventually put on trial. Talk about not doing a proper investigation at the time- the defense could easily work this up to create doubt about all the police actions.

    And that is beside the issue that beating someone is generally a crime in itself. Just because that is addressed does not mean the death is ignored.

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