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Attorney: Stabbing in Kandiyohi County was self-defense

Miles David Edinburgh was a scared teenager who ran from two bigger, stronger men who had assaulted him and were chasing after him. When 21-year-old football player Adam Milton caught the younger, smaller Edinburgh, he "had to use the knife," according to Edinburgh's defense attorney.

"That's what he did. He acted in self-defense," Public Defender Joseph Parise said during his opening statements to the jury in Edinburgh's trial for Milton's stabbing death. "You'll have to look at it and determine if it was justifiable force."

Edinburgh, now 19, of Willmar, is on trial on a single second-degree murder charge in Kandiyohi County District Court. The jury and two alternates, eight men and six women, were seated early Friday afternoon. The trial, before District Judge Jon Stafsholt, continues Monday.

Milton died at Rice Memorial Hospital after being stabbed twice in the chest during a verbal and physical exchange with Edinburgh during an early morning incident July 20, 2008, near Evergreen Ridge Apartments.

Edinburgh, 17 at the time, was charged as a juvenile. Last October, Stafsholt ordered he be certified as an adult. The case was put on hold while that decision was appealed. In April, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the adult certification.

Parise told the jury that the case was about a physical attack, on Edinburgh, that went bad. Milton could have let Edinburgh go and let him run away, Parise said. However, the wide receiver with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash ran the teenager down.

"(Edinburgh) ran for his life and he got chased down," Parise said. "(Milton) had opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to let this go. He didn't."

First Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney Connie Crowell, who is prosecuting the case, told jurors Milton's death was a homicide, not self-defense.

No one else in the group of young people gathered at the Evergreen Apartments had a weapon, she said. "But the defendant had a knife," Crowell said. "This was a fist fight, if anything. What he (Edinburgh) turned it into is murder."

Milton was one of several Ridgewater college students and football players gathered at a party that night, Crowell said. Edinburgh and others came to their door and were told to leave. The altercation, in the building's parking lot, between Milton and Edinburgh was preceded by an altercation between Edinburgh and LW Rashawn Frost, who is a witness in the case.

Crowell said that Edinburgh's racial comments angered Frost, who then hit the younger man, who fell to the ground. He then ran away, with Milton, and Frost, chasing him. "Adam's faster," she said. "Sadly, he's faster."

After Milton caught Edinburgh, he was stabbed twice, including a fatal injury that damaged Milton's left lung and heart, Crowell said. "He plunged that knife in twice with a third blow that just missed," she said.