Judge to rule on adult certification for teen accused in murder of college student
WILLMAR -- District Judge Jon Stafsholt could rule as early as Oct. 15 on whether or not Miles David Edinburgh, 17, of Willmar, will be tried as an adult for the July 20 murder of Adam Kenneth Milton, 21, of Willmar.
At the end of Monday's adult certification hearing in Kandiyohi County District Court, Stafsholt ordered that the attorneys file briefs by Sept. 26. He noted that his order on the certification would be filed by Oct. 15. For appropriate reasons, judges can take an additional 15 days to issue the order, Stafsholt said.
Edinburgh, who will turn 18 in two weeks, faces a second-degree murder charge in the case. Milton, who was a football player and student at Ridgewater College, suffered stab wounds to the chest during a scuffle and died after he was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital.
Edinburgh remains in juvenile custody at Prairie Lakes Detention Center.
During the portion of the hearing dedicated to determining if there was probable cause to charge Edinburgh with the crime, Connie Crowell, first assistant Kandiyohi County attorney, noted that the provisional autopsy on Milton showed two stab wounds to his chest.
One wound was more than 4 inches deep into the left chest and the other was 3 inches deep into the lower right chest.
"The knife was plunged into the victim as far as it could go," she said. Officers found a foldable knife with a 3½-inch blade during a subsequent search of the neighborhood.
In response, Edinburgh's public defender, Jay Liedman, told the judge that Edinburgh was hit in the head, by someone in the group that Milton was with, and that he fell to the ground. Liedman said that Edinburgh will assert that he was acting in self-defense.
According to the police complaint, Edinburgh was part of a group of young people that went to an apartment building along the 1300 block of 24th Street Northwest and met a group including Milton. They exchanged words, someone punched Edinburgh, he ran away and Milton chased him down. The stabbing allegedly happened in a scuffle between the two young men.
In telephone testimony from her home in Florida, Rose Milton, Milton's mother, cried and said it "tore up my whole world" to have her son's body returned to her. She said it was his dream to play football for a Division I school and that he caused no trouble at home or with the law.
"(Edinburgh) should be tried as an adult because he took adult actions," she said. "He took a life that can't be taken back."
Dr. Edmund Nadolny, the forensic psychologist who provided the psychological evaluation report on Edinburgh, testiifed that the boy has no mental illness, is of average intelligence, is not predatorial and had identified himself as Muslim. He noted that Edinburgh described a positive family life, with his mother and a sister living in Willmar and another brother living elsewhere.
"It doesn't appear that the family influences were sufficient to keep him doing well in school and the community," Nadolny said. Testimony included that he has been suspended from school and ordered by the court to do community service work.
During questioning by Crowell, Nadolny said Edinburgh rates as a seven on a one-to-nine scale devised to determine a person's violence risk and that his recommendation was that the boy be certified as an adult.
Steve Hammer, warden of operations of the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Red Wing, testified that Edinburgh would be a candidate for the prison's behavioral treatment program or extended juvenile jurisdiction.
"(The program at Red Wing) is always a good shot for a man this young," Hammer said, testifying via telephone.
Liedman, before he began calling witnesses in the hearing, said it was his intent to establish that his client is eligible for extended juvenile jurisdiction, in which a teen receives a stayed adult sentence and is ordered to serve a juvenile sentence until age 21. The adult sentence is executed only if the teen fails to comply with the juvenile requirements.