Five years later, Charmaine Lawson continues to fight for justice

On April 15, Charmaine Lawson, the mother of murdered Cal Poly Humboldt student David Josiah ‘DJ’ Lawson and community members held a vigil commemorating the five-year anniversary of the unresolved murder. Members of the community held up signs, chanted and wore their “Justice for Josiah” shirt in solidarity with the Lawson family at the Eureka Courthouse. 

Community supporters listen to Charmaine Lawson while holding up signs at Eureka Courthouse on April 15. | Photo by Karina Ramos Villalobos

Charmaine Lawson talked about the hardship and tireless efforts of trying to seek justice for the murder of her son. Maggie Flemming, Humboldt County district attorney who prosecuted the case had dismissed the only suspect in the case because of insufficient evidence. 

“Five years, Maggie Flemming, five years,” Lawson said. “We’re still here five years later to get justice for my son David Josiah Lawson.”

Charmaine Lawson mentioned during the vigil that on April 18 that she will meet with Attorney General of California, Rob Bonta, in hopes of getting the case prosecuted outside of Humboldt County. Lawson shared that the meeting with Bonta is key to getting justice because Humboldt County district attorney Maggie Flemming didn’t handle the case as she should have. 

Charmaine Lawson and Bethany Cseh speaking in front of the Eureka Courthouse on April 15. | Photo by Ricardo Lara Nava

According to Lawson, the meeting with Bonta could be the beginning of the end of the ongoing battle for justice.

“There’s an open wound in the community around this issue,” said Michihiro Clark Sugata, criminology professor at Cal Poly Humboldt and David Josiah Lawson’s former professor. “I think that there have been a lot of missteps in how the case was handled and we would like to see the case reexamined and taken up again.”

Arcata Police Department released a statement at the vigil acknowledging the five-year anniversary of David Josiah Lawson’s murder and their involvement in the ongoing investigation.  

“It is paramount that witnesses come forward,” said  Brian Ahearn, Arcata Chief of Police. In the statement posted online, it said “Our investigative team remains at the ready to respond to anyone, at any time, to document their statement as we continue the fact-finding process.” 

Any witnesses with information about the incident that resulted in Josiah Lawson’s death on April 15, 2017 are encouraged to contact the Arcata Police Department’s confidential tip line at (707) 825-2590 or APD Dispatch at (707) 822-2424. The $55,000 reward for new information leading is still available. 

“It’s been five years as of now and we still have no justice,” said Leonard Perry, who has been coming to Justice for Josiah protests since the first one was held. “The least we can do as citizens in this County is just show up for each other.”

*UPDATE: On April 18, in a Justice for Josiah Lawson facebook post it states: My family and I (Charmaine Lawson) met with Attorney General Rob Bonta today April 18th, 2022. We asked that he take my son David Josiah Lawson (DJ) murder case from Humboldt County DA’s office. He didn’t say Yes, But he also didn’t say NO. Please keep our family in your prayers. I’m taking this all the way to the Supreme Court if I have it. I will never give up son! #J4J

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