Lawson Feels Son's Case is Moving Toward an Arrest After Meeting with DA

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Charmaine Lawson speaks to the crowd. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Charmaine Lawson speaks to the crowd.
Charmaine Lawson said she emerged from a meeting with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office yesterday feeling the investigation into her son’s 2017 stabbing death is moving “in the direction of an arrest” and that she’s “somewhat satisfied” with the case’s progress.

Charmaine Lawson has been publicly critical of law enforcement and prosecutors since her son David Josiah Lawson, a 19-year-old sophomore at Humboldt State University, was fatally stabbed at an off-campus party on April 15, 2017. Kyle Zoellner, a 23-year-old McKinleyville man, was arrested as a suspect in the murder but a judge later ruled that there was insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial and dismissed the case. For months, there seemed to be slight action in the case until the Arcata Police Department turned its investigation over to the DA’s office on Nov. 6. Then interim APD Chief Richard Ehle said at the time that his detectives found physical evidence linking a specific suspect to the murder but, months later, District Attorney Maggie Fleming is still reviewing the case, awaiting additional information from the Department of Justice.

Charmaine Lawson has publicly announced her frustrations with the DA and APD multiple times, including during Monday’s People’s March and Rally, and spent much of this week protesting Fleming outside the Humboldt County Courthouse.

Yesterday she met with multiple people in the DA’s office, including Fleming, Ehle and Chief Investigator Wayne Cox.

“I’m still demanding justice and that’s never going to change,” Charmaine Lawson said. “I’m not gonna’ say that I am fully satisfied because there is still someone walking free but I will say that I am somewhat satisfied. The case is going in the direction of an arrest. It’s what I prayed for.”

She added that the case is being worked everyday and that the DA was making it a priority. According to Charmaine Lawson, Ehle brought two new homicide detectives to the meeting to look at the case. She said she felt positive that fresh-eyes were looking at case. The Times-Standard's Dan Squier was first to report news of Thursday's meeting.

Reached by email, Fleming said that from her perspective there were no surprises during Thursday’s meeting.

“Our latest meeting with Charmaine Lawson and others went as expected: We provided an update on the status of the case and answered a variety of questions,” she said.

Fleming declined to discuss any details of the case, saying that she has found publicizing them can harm efforts to achieve justice by influencing the availability of evidence, the behavior of witnesses and the objectivity of prospective jurors. She offered no timeline for making a charging decision.

Charmaine Lawson said that it has been hard repeatedly returning to Humboldt County only to go back home. She said a part of her feels like she’s leaving her son behind each time but the community also gives her strength and makes her feel loved.

“I couldn’t have gotten here without the community. The community shows up when there’s an injustice,” Charmaine Lawson said. “We’re almost there. I’m just waiting for that call from Fleming.”

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