April 15 marked four years since the death of Humboldt State Student and Perris, California native, David Josiah Lawson.
Within those four years, Josiah Lawson’s family and friends, along with hundreds of advocates and community members, have waited endlessly for justice to be served. Charmaine Lawson, Josiah Lawson’s mother, has worked relentlessly to hold those accountable who have aided in the lack of progression in her son’s case.
When Josiah Lawson was fatally stabbed at an Arcata house party on April 15, 2017, a suspect, later revealed as Mckinleyville resident, Kyle Zoellner, 23, was taken into custody as the possible suspect. Zoellner was then released after a five day preliminary hearing when the Judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence.
Charmaine Lawson wrote a recent letter to the editor in the North Coast Journal on April 15 that outlined the events that has led to the injustice of her son, expressing that the only way to progress the case is for witnesses to come forward and provide the video evidence that has been said to be out there.
“At Zoellner’s preliminary hearing, the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, whose job it is to represent the victim, appeared to intentionally present a case on behalf of the defense,” Charmaine Lawson said in the letter. “This led to the release of the suspect Kyle Zoellner.”
DNA evidence confirmed that the knife found near the crime scene was in fact the weapon used to murder Josiah Lawson. However, the DNA tests did not provide enough evidence to determine the suspect in the case, so when the Grand Jury met in March 2019, they declined to indict any person in the stabbing of Josiah Lawson.
One juror that was a part of this decision went public by anonymity through a video released by North Coast news that was released in April 2019, the month following the decision.
“I was shocked at the decision. We only deliberated about six hours. I said, ‘We have failed.’ We did not deliberate long enough,” the anonymous juror said to the reporter in the interview. “A lot of the jurors thought that we had to prove a charge. This was not a trial; we were not tasked with proving guilt or innocence, only probable cause.”
The decision for no indiction, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic isolating people from one another has made it increasingly difficult on Charmaine Lawson and her family as they continue to seek justice for Josiah Lawson.
To possibly help push the case along, Charmaine has increased the reward to $100,000 for witnesses that can provide information that will lead to an arrest and bring justice to her son.
Charmaine Lawson and APD Chief Brian Ahearn sent out a public service announcement on April 14, asking that anyone who attended the party that may know anything to come forward.
“There is DNA evidence on the knife used to kill my son,” Charmaine said in the PSA. “Now we need eyewitnesses to come forth and help us get justice for Josiah.”