The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office announced on Wednesday that no charges will be filed on the murder investigation of David Josiah Lawson. According to the announcement, a Criminal Grand Jury was convened on February 28, 2019 which addressed the stabbing death of Lawson. This consisted of testimony from 25 witnesses, which also included experts in forensics and DNA. The jury declined to indict a person for the murder.
Lawson was a 19 year old student attending Humboldt State University. He was killed at an off-campus party in April 2017. The case brought about multiple controversies concerning racism, safety and injustice within the Humboldt community and questioned the practices of local law enforcement.
On Wednesday evening, close to a dozen silent protesters stood at the front of the Humboldt County Courthouse in Eureka. Many were in shock and disbelief, while others said they were still processing the situation.
Jill Larrabee with the Justice for Josiah Committee was among the small crowd.
"I'm pretty numb at this moment, and pretty furious and obviously it's typical. F***ing typical," she said. "We did have hope. We have to have hope because we have to keep moving forward. We're not going to stop fighting."
Larrabee also stressed the importance of being supportive to Lawson's mother Charmaine, who has yet to make a public comment on the decision by the grand jury.
Others at the courthouse shared the same sentiment and expressed their anguish about the case and it's uncertainty. Kathleen Lowder, also a member of the Justice for Josiah Committee said she felt the situation was an incredible letdown to Lawson's family, his friends and the Humboldt community.
"It just feels like a travesty. It feels horrifically unfair. It feels like the Arcata Police Department bungled it up in the very beginning to the point where it might not be salvageable. I hope that that's not true," Lowder said. "This can't be the end. His mother needs justice and his family needs justice."
Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn told KHSU in a phone call that the department thanks the DA's office and DA Maggie Fleming for their hard work and commitment to this case. Ahearn also thanked the Grand Jury for their civic duty.
"I take full responsibility for falling short in presenting an investigation that is prosecutable," he said. "We are going right back to work to solve this case. We are not going to stop investigating this case until we hold accountable anyone who's responsible for Josiah's murder."
Read the DA's press release below:
A Criminal Grand Jury was convened on February 28, 2019, to address the stabbing death of David Josiah Lawson. The jury received testimony from 25 witnesses, including experts in forensics and DNA. By law, the process included the opportunity for the Grand Jury to subpoena evidence and witnesses.
On March 13, the Grand Jury declined to indict any person in the stabbing death of David Josiah Lawson. Therefore, no charges will be filed in the case. The District Attorney has notified Mr. Lawson’s family of this outcome.
Humboldt State University President Lisa Rossbacher sent an email to the HSU community as well:
Dear University Community,
The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office made an important announcement today about the investigation into the killing of Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson.
I join you in feeling an immense sadness for Josiah’s mother Charmaine and other family members, his friends, and our entire community. Josiah was a positive and beloved member of our University and community. His loss was incredibly painful, and we continue to mourn him.
Members of our University community will be available to offer support in Jolly Giant Commons from 7 to 11 p.m. this evening.