In response to today’s ruling by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen that there was insufficient evidence to hold McKinleyville resident Kyle Zoellner for the death of HSU student David Josiah Lawson, Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman has issued the following statement:
The result of the preliminary hearing does not change the vigor in which we will continue to pursue this case. The men and women of the Arcata Police Department are committed to justice for Josiah. As shown by the sworn testimony at the hearing, this case is difficult. However, we will not stop our investigation. Our focus will remain on this investigation and the pursuit of justice.
Additionally, the following reaction comes from Arcata Vice-Mayor Sofia Pereira:
My thoughts are with the Lawson family, our community and the students at HSU. We continue to grieve and search for answers to this senseless act of violence. The city and the police department’s focus must continue to remain on achieving justice for Josiah. I have been in communication with the Police Chief and I know our officers are continuing their work on this case. Once the investigation is complete the city will also review all aspects of our response to this tragedy. I have confidence in our police department’s dedication to solve this murder and I support their efforts to find the truth.
UPDATE, 4:43 p.m.: Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming has released a statement of her own:
The recently completed preliminary hearing concerning the tragic death of David Josiah Lawson did not result in Kyle Zoellner being held to answer for the charge of murder. In the hearing, the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office presented all the information available, including testimony by seventeen witnesses with distinct accounts of key events. In addition, all available physical evidence was presented to the Court. The hearing proceeded while the investigation is ongoing because a person has the right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of arraignment. The information presented in the hearing differed from the information available when the case was charged and additional information is expected, including more analysis of the knife found at the scene and analysis of blood samples found on clothing. Like the initial charging decision, any future charges in the case will be determined by available evidence. Anyone with additional information relevant to the investigation should immediately bring that to the Arcata Police Department. The District Attorney contacted the victim’s mother and her pastor to discuss the outcome of the hearing and advised her the investigation remains open.
Also, today’s earlier statement from Humboldt State University:
Humboldt State University is certainly disappointed by what appears to be a setback in this case. It is difficult to be patient, but sometimes necessary in the pursuit of justice. This is not over. The investigation is continuing, and the University will continue providing assistance to local law enforcement.