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Jury still deliberating in murder trial of 19-year-old man

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news Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story contains a derogatory racial term not normally used in the Tribune's stories and the term may be offensive to readers. However, the term's usage is considered a significant fact in this trial.

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WILLMAR -- The jury was still deliberating at press time Wednesday in the murder trial of Miles David Edinburgh. The jury, seven men and five women, began deliberating around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The trial, before District Judge Jon Stafsholt, began Oct. 8.

Edinburgh is charged with one count of second-degree murder for Adam Kenneth Milton's July 20, 2008, death.

The 21-year-old Milton, who played football for Ridgewater College, was declared dead at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar about one hour after police and emergency medical personnel were called to Evergreen Apartments, near the college, regarding a stabbing.

During closing arguments, Edinburgh's public defender, Joseph Parise, told the jury that no crime was committed, just a tragic justifiable homicide, because his client acted in self-defense.

"Miles Edinburgh was assaulted by a big man, he ran and was chased by two other big men," Parise said. "The peril that Miles Edinburgh faced was great."

During her closing argument, First Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney Connie Crowell reminded the jury of the medical examiner's report and testimony.

Dr. Kelly Mills, assistant Ramsey County medical examiner, testified Tuesday that Milton's heart and left lung were damaged by one of two stab wounds, one of which penetrated 4¾ inches into his body.

The knife found near the crime scene by Willmar police had a blade of 3½ inches.

"The actions of the defendant speak louder than words," she said, noting that Edinburgh became "conveniently fearful" after Milton's death and then claimed self-defense.

"Where's the fear?" she asked the jury. "That doesn't come until after he's killed someone."

One of the teens with Edinburgh, Albert Navarro, testified Tuesday that Edinburgh was acting like a "bad ass" and used the racial epithet "nigger" toward Milton and several other football players.

"That's not the type of fear that justifies homicide," Crowell said.

Earlier in the day, Edinburgh, 19, took the stand and said that Milton ran after him, caught him with one hand and struck him in the neck and ribcage with the other hand before Edinburgh stabbed him.

"I opened up my pocket knife and poked Adam Milton," he said. "I was still trying to run."

Edinburgh said Milton didn't seem to feel the first stab and continued to grasp his shoulder and swing at him, so he stabbed Milton again. He then continued to run into nearby bushes and threw the knife to the ground under a pine tree before running away and hiding under a vehicle.

Edinburgh was apprehended nearby by Willmar police. He said on the stand that he told the arresting officer, "They were jumping me, they were attacking me."

The young man said he learned while in jail that Milton had died. "It broke my heart to know that I took the life of another human being," he said. "That's not who I was."

During cross-examination by Crowell, Edinburgh said he did not say anything to Milton about having a knife and that he did not tell Milton not to touch him.

Edinburgh also testified that the knife, exhibit No. 11 in the case, was his knife and that he used it to stab Milton.

Also on Tuesday, Anne Ciecko, forensic scientist for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified regarding blood samples taken from the hooded sweatshirt and jeans Edinburgh was wearing when he was apprehended. The DNA of three samples, two from the shirt's sleeve and hood and one from front pocket area of the jeans, matched Milton's DNA.

On Monday, former and current Ridgewater College football players testified that they saw Milton and Edinburgh scuffle after the physical and verbal altercation.

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. The young man, dressed in an U.S. Army uniform, said he was with the group of young people who followed the ambulance carrying Milton, 21, to the hospital. The group later informed Milton's mother that he had died.

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."

Two Willmar Police Department officers, Dustin Van Der Hagen and Chad Nelson, testified that Edinburgh had no signs of injury on him when they photographed him, after his arrest.

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.

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