Edinburgh sentenced to 30 years in prison
WILLMAR -- Miles Edinburgh was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for the 2008 murder of Ridgewater College football captain Adam Milton.
The 19-year-old Willmar man was given credit for the 501 days he's already served, initially at the juvenile detention facility and then at the Kandiyohi County Jail.
If Edinburgh serves 20 years without an infraction, he could be released on good behavior. He would serve the remainder of the sentence on supervised probation.
The sentence was handed down by Judge Jon Stafsholt in Kandiyohi County District Court.
When issuing the sentence, Stafsholt encouraged Edinburgh to get counseling in prison "to control your anger."
Anger in prison, the judge cautioned, "could endanger your life."
"We are very pleased with the sentence. It is true justice," First Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney Connie Crowell said, following the hearing.
Crowell sought a 367-month sentence for the second-degree murder charge. Edinburgh was convicted Oct. 16 by a Kandiyohi County jury.
Citing the fact his client was 17 at the time of the murder, Edinburgh's attorney, Joseph Parise, requested a lesser sentence than what state sentencing guidelines recommend, what is referred to as a "downward departure." Parise said a 200-month sentence would be "extremely fair."
While standing in a blue prison jumpsuit in the courtroom with family and friends sitting behind him, Edinburgh calmly told the judge he takes responsibility for Milton's death. "This burden I carry" is like a "death sentence," he said.
Reiterating that he acted in self-defense when he stabbed Milton, Edinburgh said self-preservation is the "first law of nature" and something people do every day to survive. "Don't punish me," he told the judge, for "preserving my life and well-being."
During his trial, Edinburgh claimed he stabbed Milton after the 21-year-old football player, who was bigger and faster, ran after him and caught him following an altercation near the Ridgewater campus.
Edinburgh feared for his life, his lawyer said in court Wednesday.
Crowell said Edinburgh started the altercation when he barged into a party and threw racial epithets at a friend of Milton's. She said Edinburgh was the only one with a weapon, he knew it and made the choice to use it.
During the course of the hearing, Parise presented motions for acquittal and for a new trial.
Stafsholt denied all the motions.
An appeal is expected.
Listening to the entire proceeding from her home in Florida was Milton's mother, Rose.
Connected by a phone link broadcast through speakers in the courtroom, she could be heard at times rustling papers while the attorneys argued their points, and later softly sobbing after the victim impact statements were read by Crowell.
In her statement, Rose Milton said her first-born son "brought me nothing but pure joy in my life" and that Edinburgh's actions have caused her nothing but heartache and pain.
"You murdered my wonderful son," she said.
"Your mother can visit you," she wrote, whereas she can only visit her son's grave. "God have mercy on your soul."
Milton's brother, Stephen, 14, wrote that Adam was "the best brother anyone could be blest with" but that the only way he can talk to him now is "in my prayers."
Their family is forced to look at pictures and wonder what Adam could've been, he wrote. "God forgive you for killing my big brother and taking him away from me."
Ridgewater football coach Rob Baumgarn, who was in the courtroom, sat sullenly as Crowell read his statement.
"We miss you," wrote Baumgarn in a letter to Milton. He recalled the student's "glowing personality" and smile. "Who could forget that smile?" he wrote.
"You would've done great things with your life. ... I just can't believe this has happened."
He wrote that he "wanted justice" but knows there are "no winners in this case" because "nothing will bring you back."
Baumgarn traveled to Florida to attend Milton's memorial service.
Crowell said Baumgarn gave Rose Milton her son's football jersey and told her no one would wear his number again.