Teen Tuber Testifies on Day 6 of Wisconsin River Stabbings Trial: Defendant Was ‘Looking for Little Girls’

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
April 8, 2024US News
Teen Tuber Testifies on Day 6 of Wisconsin River Stabbings Trial: Defendant Was ‘Looking for Little Girls’
Nicolae Miu is pictured in a booking photo provided on Aug. 1, 2022. (Courtesy of St. Croix County Sheriff's Office via AP)

The trial for a man claiming self-defense in a deadly stabbing spree at a Wisconsin river entered its second week on Monday.

Nicolae Miu, 54, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the stabbings that killed 17-year-old Issac Shuman and injured four others.

Mr. Miu pleaded not guilty to all charges in September 2022. He maintained that he was simply looking for a cell phone when he was attacked by a group of teens tubing on the Apple River. While he claimed he was defending himself from the attack, prosecutors have painted him as the aggressor in the July 2022 incident.

The sixth day of the trial started with testimony from 19-year-old Owen Peloquin. Mr. Miu was acting “sketchy” and looked “really weird,” he testified. He also said the defendant never mentioned he was looking for a cell phone but made a comment that he was searching for “little girls.”

“Couldn’t really make out fully what he said, but I heard him say something about little girls, and that didn’t sit right with any of us. We were screaming at him, ‘Pedophile, get out of here!’ You’re a weirdo!’ What a normal person would do,” Mr. Peloquin testified.

But the alleged comment about “little girls” was never captured on video and the group of teens never reported the comment to the police, the defense argued.

Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi suggested that the group instigated the fatal conflict by taunting him about being a sexual predator. He also showed still images of the group surrounding the defendant and pointing at him. Additionally, they recorded the incident on their cell phones instead of just floating past him on the river, Mr. Chirafisi argued.

On the other hand, prosecutors have aimed to prove that Mr. Miu was actually the instigator and played a video clip of him grabbing one of the tubes. Mr. Peloquin said Mr. Miu “weirdly sprinted” at them and made them “super uncomfortable.” When that happened, the people in his group got out of their tubes, the witness testified. He said a second group of young tubers also got involved.

Ashley Hoffman, a nurse, was also called to the witness stand on Monday. She shared several statements that Mr. Miu made about the incident on the river. He told the nurse that seven people were on top of him and hit him in the back and the back of his head.

“They just attacked me. They called me a child rapist,” the nurse testified about his statements.

John Shilts, the lead investigator, testified that he didn’t see any “clues of impairment” among the witnesses. He also said two other knives were found in “corrosive” condition at the river.

Other witnesses who were called to testify on Monday included an investigator with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office and a local trauma surgeon who treated the victims. Ryhley Mattison, A.J. Martin, Dante Carlson and Tony Carlson were injured but all survived the stabbings.

The prosecution is set to call two more witnesses to the stand on Tuesday. The trial is expected to wrap up at the end of the week. Mr. Miu faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted.

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