Incident that left football player dead recalled in murder trial
WILLMAR -- Former and current Ridgewater College football players testified Monday that they saw Adam Milton and Miles Edinburgh scuffle after a verbal and physical altercation between several young men during the early morning hours of July 20, 2008.
Walter Rochet, who had just moved to Willmar and would play quarterback for the Warriors, testified that he saw Milton catch Edinburgh by the shirt, that they wrestled and Edinburgh ran away.
Milton dropped to one knee, clenched his arms over his wounded chest and "blood poured out on the ground," Rochet said.
The 19-year-old said he ran back to his apartment, near the college, to get his cell phone.
Fellow player Justin Melhado called 911 and directed Rochet's first aid response to the bleeding Milton.
"I had his hand clenched so that I knew he was still alive," Rochet said, testifying that he attempted to stop the bleeding caused by two stab wounds to Milton's chest.
Dressed Monday in an U.S. Army uniform, Rochet said he was with the group of young people who followed the ambulance carrying Milton, 21, to Rice Memorial Hospital. The group later informed Milton's mother that he had died.
Milton was pronounced dead about one hour after police were called to the apartment complex, along the 1300 block of 24th Avenue Northwest, around 12:50 a.m. July 20, 2008. Police Officer Frank Hanson testified that he was asked to drive the ambulance to the hospital so that both emergency medical responders could attend to Milton.
Edinburgh, now 19, of Willmar, is on trial on a single second-degree murder charge in Kandiyohi County District Court for Milton's death. Monday marked the first day of testimony in the case. A jury was seated late last week, and opening arguments conducted. District Judge Jon Stafsholt is presiding over the trial, which is scheduled through Thursday.
Melhado, another football player who is now playing for Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., attempted to perform CPR and rescue breathing on Milton while they waited for medical help to arrive. "I stayed with Adam and tried to breathe for him until the ambulance got there," he said.
The prosecution testimony and evidence presentation began on Monday morning with the 911 call Melhado made to county dispatch. His frantic voice relays that his friend has been stabbed and that an ambulance is needed.
The dispatcher asks who stabbed him, if the caller has a description of the individual. Melhado is heard asking someone else, "what's his name?" and coming back to the dispatcher with "Miles ... Miles Edinburgh."
Several Willmar police officers testified that they were dispatched to the apartment complex on a stabbing call that morning, that they arrived to find Milton with stab wounds and that witnesses said that Edinburgh ran away from the scene.
Officer Dustin Van Der Hagen testified that, while searching the surrounding area, he found Edinburgh hiding under a sport utility vehicle parked in a nearby driveway. The young man was arrested and gave a description of the knife to officers.
Police Sgt. Michael Markkanen testified that he and Officer Pete Dobransky located the knife under a nearby pine tree.
Detective Chad Nelson carefully opened and closed the knife, with a 3½-inch blade, on the witness stand before First Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney Connie Crowell, who is prosecuting the case. The jury members were allowed to look at the weapon.
Both Van Der Hagen and Nelson testified that Edinburgh had no signs of injury on him when they photographed him after his arrest. Edinburgh's public defender, Joseph Parise, has stated that his client was defending himself during the incident and that his use of force was justified, given that larger, older football players had just assaulted him.
Edinburgh, at his arrest, was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 130 pounds, Nelson said. Milton was 5 feet 9 inches tall and 190 pounds, according to the medical examiners report.
LW Rashawn Frost, 20, testified that young women who were hanging out with Milton, Rochet, Melhado and himself asked if their friends, including Edinburgh, could come over. Frost said no, but the group came over anyway, leading to the altercation between Edinburgh and Milton.
Frost, a tight end and receiver for the Warrior team who is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 220 pounds at the time, testified that he took a swing at Edinburgh, attempting to hit the younger man. He said he also hit one of the other men after learning that Milton had been stabbed.
"I wish I could take a lot of things I did that night back," he said. "But I can't."