Kyle Zoellner was the suspect accused in the stabbing death of 19-year old Humboldt State student David Josiah Lawson. After five days of preliminary hearings, Zoellner was released due to a lack of physical evidence. Below are the eyewitness accounts of each person called to testify during the hearings.
Wednesday May 3rd, 2017
Day three of Kyle Zoellner’s Preliminary Hearing
Kyle & Kris Castillo (brothers, friends of Josiah)
Jason Martinez (CR student)
Keaundrey (Ex-BU member)
Ren (Josiah’s girlfriend)
Kyle C – College of the Redwoods student
Not associated with BU, doesn’t hang out with any members other than Josiah. His girlfriend Annalisia is roommates with Josiah.
Him, his girl-friend Annalisia, his brother Kyle, Josiah and Ren all rode in Annalisa’s car to the party on Spear.
Someone said they were leaving, walked to front of the house. Waited as Ren went to get Josiah who is in a room with friends. Wasn’t a lot of people out front, people were in the house. He exited the party when he saw Annalisia leave.
Someone approached him on the porch. A male and two girls (one blonde hair, one black). Identify Kyle Zoellner as the person who approached him on the porch. Josiah on his left and brother on his right. Zoellner wasn’t trying to have a problem. Girls did accuse them of stealing a phone and told them, “Bullshit, flip your pockets inside out.” (girl with black hair). Told Zoellner to tell his “girl to relax for her to be accusing me is deep.” Zoellner was being polite, girl blew the situation up. The girls then got into an altercation and Zoellner was punched. Was asked about punching a girl in the face. Said that he doesn’t know where that lie came from. Said he saw girls fighting. Josiah and Zoellner start fighting and Zoellner is knocked to the ground. Ren was fighting with the girls who said to empty out your pockets. Girls went to the ground. Was looking at Zoellner who was on the floor. Did not touch Zoellner once he was on the ground. Left Zoellner alone because he was already on the floor. Zoellner was on the floor, sitting on his butt when the pepper spray came out. Blonde girl pepper sprays them in their face without saying anything.
No one else was outside at the time.
Pepper spray ends the fight with the girls. Someone walked up to them and just sprayed his brother in the face with the pepper spray. Felt that after pepper spray, fight was over.
They proceed down the driveway to the street where the car is parked.
Kyle testified that he heard Josiah ask someone to take him home and he thought that he got in the car behind him but his attention was mainly focused on helping his brother who was completely blinded by the pepperspray, get to the car. He helped his brother to the car only to find that Anna wasn’t there.
Kyle said in between the time he got to the car and went back to the house to find Anna, is when Josiah is stabbed and he said everything happened so fast, within minutes.
He went back into the driveway towards the house and walking up he heard Ren crying and saw her by porch. Saw Josiah in bushes and that Josiah was stabbed and bleeding a lot. Josiah was moving and there with a BU brother. Had went inside to try and find Annalisia after he saw Ren crying. Back outside, he heard someone say I hope he dies. Quite a few officers arrived. Wanted to take Josiah to the hospital (Mad River Hospital is on the same street, a minute-two minute drive away) was told by police that he was in no position to be moved. Never saw officers do CPR. Was at the party about 30 minutes max. Didn’t see Josiah drink, doesnt drink.
Kris C – Brother of Kyle C
Approached by Zoellner and girls as him, his brother, Josiah and Ren exit the party. Girl with black and blue hair is aggressive and tells them to empty their pockets. They all told her no. Ren arguing with everyone. Didn’t see any guy punch a girl nor did he punch a girl. A argument ensues and Ren and the girl with the black and blue hair start fighting. Tries to break up the girls fighting
While girls fighting and Josiah and Zoellner fighting; Zoellner fighting back and gets knocked to ground. Kyle C pushing them both trying to break up the fight. Girl with blonde hair pepper sprays Kris directly in his face and doesn’t say anything prior.
It was about three minutes from the time they exited the party from the time they were pepper sprayed. Never saw anyone with knife. Being helped by his brother as they walked down the driveway to the street after Zoellner was knocked to the ground and they were pepper sprayed.
Got to the street on Spear Avenue, walked to the car and no one was there so they went back towards the house. As they approached he heard screaming. Two to three minutes had passed between this.
Next time he saw Ren again she was crying standing over Josiah’s body.
Jason Martinez – CR Student
Does not remember much at all from the night of the stabbing except the motion of someone being stabbed. Said I do not remember at least 20 times.
Doesn’t remember location of party, went there with Spencer and Ace. Ace heard about party. Does not recall what time he was picked up and left.
Was walking towards house, saw two men to his left, two women near house by two guys in the grass. Ren was by herself near the two girls by the house and she was crying. Josiah was talking to someone; confrontational like they were about to fight. Heard, oh shit, he has a knife. Saw someone “take action” with right hand and saw him strike again. Ren crying the whole time. Two girls did nothing. Saw someone had been stabbed, his next move is going to Ren and asking what’s wrong. She says she got pepper sprayed. With Ren for a sec then went to bushes and saw it was Josiah, knew he couldn’t tell Ren at that moment. Elijah was there giving Josiah CPR. Jason held Josiah’s legs in the air so blood could flow as instructed by Elijah. Josiah was still breathing. Police came in five minutes. No one yelling at police. Saw lady and male cop doing chest compressions. Ren looked beat up. Did not give statement that night, went to hospital because he was really worried.
Spoke to detective twice. Said he saw who had stabbed Josiah but he never said Zoellner’s name.
Keaundrey – HSU student and BU member
Was at the party on Spear and stepped outside on the front porch. When he stepped on the last step of the porch, he saw blood on the driveway. Saw two people in combat stance like they were fighting, saw Perris. Saw a large pool of blood. Went back inside to get other BU members to figure out what was happening. Went back outside to Perris and Zoellner. Saw tall blonde girl and short girl with black/blue hair. Blue hair attacked Perris. Blonde hair trying to remove Kyle Zoellner from the scene. Saw no knife, Perris asked Zoellner if he had a knife. Perris had him on the ground, 10 ppl come out the house and surround Zoellner and beat him up for about 30 seconds. Beating stopped and crowd dispersed. Two girls were still with defendant. Someone was screaming Josiah’s name. Went to bushes, saw Elijah performing CPR, Jason Martinez holding Josiah’s legs in the air. Saw blood and a cut on Josiah’s abdominal area. Heard someone say I hope that N*** dies. Said the girl with the colored hair told him near the end of the driveway, “I hope your friend dies.” Police arrived, took Zoellner to the car, Lila screaming at the car. Talked to detectives two days later.
(Prosecution almost immediately started asking about internal BU issues and why Keaundrey had been recently kicked out)
Said a few members were upset but he didn’t know why and that he had gotten kicked out of the group.
Ren – Josiah’s Girlfriend
Ren and Josiah had been hanging out at his house earlier in the day and after taking some shots in the evening, they decided to attend a party that night. They attend the party on Spear Ave with Kyle, Kris and Kyle’s girlfriend Annalisia.
Ren and Lila began arguing with each other. They had been at the party on Spear for about 40 minutes when Annalisia (who drove) decides she wants to leave. Ren went to get Josiah from a room where he was with some friends and they proceeded to exit the party. When they came out the house onto the porch, Ren says she saw Zoellner and his girlfriend Lila Ortega. They were asked had they seen a phone to which they replied “no.” Ren says that the girl with the blue hair (Zoellner’s girlfriend) said, “Bullshit! I know you stole my phone you peice of shit.” Lila then told them to flip out their pockets. Ren tells Lila, “You don’t talk to my boyfriend like that.”
Ren said that she responded in this way because she did not like when people treated Josiah differently based on race and she felt that this was what Lila was doing.
Ren was then asked is this when she attacked Lila and her friend, to which she responded convincingly no and that they were the aggressors.
Ren said that Lila bit her breast out of nowhere and they began to fight. She said she was very surprised that she was being bitten on her breast.
She remembered the fight being over when someone pulled them apart. Ren, Josiah and brothers Kris and Kyle began walking down the driveway towards the street, where the car was parked.
As they walked away Ren felt her face burning. At the end of the driveway, Kris and Josiah fall to the ground. Kyle tends to his brother as Ren tries to help Josiah whose eyes were “leaking.” Ren testified that she began to have a panic attack over what may have been sprayed on their faces and she initially thought it was some sort of “drugs.” When asked why she would think this, she replied because the girls “looked like coke-heads to me.”
Ren runs back up the driveway to the girls and asked, “what the fuck did you do to me?” Lila and her friend Naiya immediately attack Ren and jump her. They told her that she “started it.” Ren was left bleeding, with holes in her shirt from being bitten, scars along with bite marks on her breast and a puncture wound on her left arm.
The same time that Ren is getting jumped by these girls, Josiah (who is pepper sprayed) is coming back up the driveway to look for her.
It is in between this time that Josiah is stabbed.
She hears Josiah yell out, “babe!” in a worried tone while she is fighting.
Liliana comes to her and Ren tells her that she had just been in a fight and that they needed to find Josiah. The next time Ren saw Josiah, he was bleeding out in the bushes, foaming at the mouth.
*Pictures of Ren’s Injuries as entered into evidence at the preliminary hearings