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Does the Apple River stabbing suspect have a strong self-defense claim?

An attorney who fought for acquittal in a different Wisconsin stabbing self-defense case finds challenges for both sides in Nick Miu's case.
Credit: KARE

HUDSON, Wis. — Four people continue to recover after being stabbed on the Apple River over the weekend.

The suspect told police he acted in self-defense in the incident that killed 17-year-old Isaac Schuman.

And that's had a lot of people asking: Does Nick Miu have a valid self-defense claim?

The details of what led up to the stabbing are complicated, and ultimately, it could come down to if Nick Mui had the opportunity to walk away before he began stabbing.

Details of the fatal Apple River stabbing — laid out in the criminal complaint — paint a chaotic picture.

"If I were his lawyer and were raising a self-defense claim, I would point out the fact that he, being called names, that he felt intimidated by multiple people — that he was somewhat surrounded or felt like he was surrounded. There's certainly evidence, video evidence, of him being pushed, punched — things of that nature," said Twin Cities defense attorney Eric Nelson.

Nelson successfully represented a client in a high-profile stabbing self-defense case in Wisconsin in 2015. The case ended in acquittal on all counts.

Nelson said the details in the Nick Miu case are more complex. And despite Miu having a self-defense claim, Nelson points out problems with that claim.

"The most notable thing, in my opinion, is there are several references [in the criminal complaint] to 'route of egress,' or his ability to flee the situation," Nelson said.

According to the criminal complaint, video evidence "shows opportunity for Miu to leave the confrontation." 

Nelson said Wisconsin essentially has a duty for someone to retreat, if possible, before using deadly force.

There is another detail that would hurt a self-defense claim.

A woman involved in the confrontation told police "what started the physical assault was Miu punched the woman."

"You can't claim self-defense if you're the first aggressor or you're engaged in unlawful conduct that provokes another to assault you," Nelson said.

That punch is apparently not caught on the bystander video, which is not publicly available. 

Nelson predicts it will be a complicated trial.

"There's a clear self-defense claim established. It's not a perfect one. But also, the state's going to have some problems with their case too," Nelson said.

Miu still apparently has not hired an attorney. There is a short hearing scheduled Friday to determine what his plans are, then the next substantive court hearing is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 12.

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