ST CROIX FALLS, Wis. — A Prior Lake man is charged with first-degree homicide and four counts of first-degree attempted homicide following an unanticipated explosion of violence on the Apple River in western Wisconsin Saturday.
Nicolae Miu answered a judge's questions in a clear, strong voice during his first appearance in St. Croix County District Court Monday. If convicted of the most serious count against him he faces life in prison.
A criminal complaint spells out the charges against Miu, a 52-year-old engineer who was out on the river with his wife and friends when the incident boiled over shortly after 3:45 p.m. Prosecutors say Miu pulled a knife with a blade approximately three inches long from his pocket and lashed out at a group of younger people during a confrontation, fatally stabbing 17-year-old Isaac Schuman of Stillwater and seriously wounding four others.
Miu was taken into custody approximately an hour later while exiting the river without incident.
In the complaint, prosecutors describe a video of the incident that reflects the defendant swimming up to a group of juveniles with a diving mask and snorkel and grabbing their tubes. The video reportedly shows multiple people surround Miu and yelling at him, capturing members of the group accusing the defendant of "looking for little girls." Prosecutors maintain it was clear Miu had opportunity to walk away from the situation.
As the confrontation escalated, the video showed the group appearing to move toward the defendant, and he was pushed backwards into the water, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors said the video shows Miu get up with the knife in his hand before he's pushed back into the water by a tuber wearing yellow shorts. Court documents said as the tuber advanced to apparently shove him again the defendant stabbed him in the abdomen, and then used the knife to stab others.
One witness described Miu swimming up to the group and looking at them "really weird and sketchily." According to the complaint, at least two people told investigators that the confrontation became physical only after Nicolae Miu punched a young woman in the face, and it was then that members of the group went after him.
In the complaint, investigators said they spoke with a number of witnesses and members of the group involved in the confrontation who indicated Miu was bothering them. They supported what others told law enforcement, that the defendant was only physically confronted after he had punched a young female in the face.
The defendant's wife told detectives that the couple and some friends left Prior Lake that morning around 9:30 a.m., arrived at River's Edge and started their float down the river around 11:30 a.m. or noon. At some point, Miu's wife Sondra says he donned a mask and snorkel and left the group to look for a lost cell phone. She told investigators that he approached a group of young people, went near them a second time and was attacked. According to the complaint, Sondra Mui said she heard screaming, and her husband ran back to the group. She did not believe he was there long enough to harm anyone.
The criminal complaint explained that while being interrogated by investigators Mui reportedly said the group called him a "child molester." He said what happened was "self-defense," insisting that a lot of people came at him with weapons, hit him, were on top of him and "I don't remember anything after that," the documents alleged.
During the short appearance, bail was set at $1 million for Nicolae Miu, with the conditions he remain sober and possess no dangerous weapons. His next court appearance is set for Aug. 12 at 10 p.m.