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Willmar teen will claim self-defense

WILLMAR -- A Willmar teenager pleaded not guilty Wednesday to killing a Ridgewater College student last July.

Miles David Edinburgh, 18, is charged with stabbing to death Adam Milton.

Milton, 21, was from Florida. He played football for Ridgewater College and was taking summer classes here last year.

He died after being stabbed in the chest twice following a verbal and physical exchange with Edinburgh during an early morning incident July 20 near the Evergreen Ridge Apartments.

During a brief court appearance Wednesday morning before Judge Jon Stafsholt, Edinburgh entered a not guilty plea through his attorney, Joseph Parise.

Wearing a blue prison jumpsuit over an orange sweatshirt, Edinburgh did not speak in court.

Besides Parise, who is an assistant state public defender from Moorhead, Edinburgh is being represented by Eighth District Public Defender Jay Liedman.

Parise said Edinburgh will claim self-defense in the jury trial, which is set to start Oct. 8.

Given the circumstances of the incident, Parise said Edinburgh's conduct was "justified."

In an interview Parise said, "It's pretty clear from the information that's been provided that there's a valid argument to be made in self-defense, and we are going to assert vigorously our defense."

According to the complaint, Milton chased Edinburgh after the then-17-year-old had made racially charged statements. When Milton caught up with Edinburgh, the two scuffled.

Witnesses said Milton suddenly fell to the ground. When they ran to him, they discovered his chest was covered with blood. When police arrived, he was unconscious.

Edinburgh fled, dropping the knife that is believed to be the weapon in nearby woods. Police found him hiding under a car and took him into custody.

The complaint states that Edinburgh stabbed Milton two times -- once in the center of the chest and once to the left side in the rib cage, piercing his lungs. The knife had reportedly been plunged to the hilt. Milton died less than an hour later at Rice Memorial Hospital.

Milton was unarmed.

Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney Connie Crowell, who will be prosecuting the case, said she is prepared to "refute any claim of self-defense."

Crowell said, "We are prepared to go to trial and let the evidence speak for itself."

Edinburgh will be tried as an adult.

In a District Court ruling in October, Stafsholt determined Edinburgh should be tried as an adult and not a juvenile. That decision was appealed, but upheld, by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in a ruling last month.

That legal wrangling delayed the trial process. An omnibus hearing initially had been set for December.

The court date Wednesday was supposed to have been an omnibus hearing, but it was waived. Instead, Edinburgh entered a not guilty plea and the attorneys and judge set the trial date.

At Parise's request, the court may also use a questionnaire that would be sent to potential jurors. The process would give attorneys information about the jury pool and could speed up the jury selection process.

Parise said he is concerned about the "more than average" amount of publicity the case has received. So far he has not requested a change of venue.

Edinburgh is being held in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $500,000 bail.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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