Jury deciding the fate of St. Croix River stabbing suspect

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A Wisconsin jury is deliberating in the homicide trial of Levi Acre-Kendall, who is accused of stabbing to death another angler on the St. Croix River last spring after a confrontation.

Acre-Kendall, 20, of Cambridge, Minnesota, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide and second-degree intentional homicide. Prosecutors added a third charge Saturday morning — second-degree reckless homicide – in what the Star Tribune described as an unusual move.

The jury got the case around 2:30 p.m. Saturday after closing arguments were delivered in the morning. They wrapped up around 8 p.m. Saturday and will resume their deliberations Sunday morning, according to the Star Tribune.

During closing arguments, and throughout the week-long trial, jurors have heard differing accounts of the confrontation between Acre-Kendall and the victim, 34-year-old Peter Kelly of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.

Acre-Kendall maintains he stabbed Kelly in self defense. The men were fishing with friends on opposite sides of the St. Croix River in Interstate Park on April 14, and their groups had argued across the river in the hours leading up to the stabbing.

Acre-Kendall’s lawyer and prosecutors have argued over which group was more aggressive in hurling threats and slurs across the river, KSTP reports. 

Acre-Kendall testified in his own defense Friday, saying he was attempting to leave the scene of the fight and the stabbing occurred as Kelly tried to pull him out of a vehicle. Acre-Kendall became emotional at times, saying he wished he "could take it all back," and apologizing, according to the Star Tribune. 

The jury will need to decide whether Acre-Kendall’s use of force was justified after Kelly initiated physical contact.

Kelly is survived by his wife and five young children. The trial is taking place at the Polk County, Wisconsin, courthouse in Balsam Lake, but jurors were selected from Chippewa County due to pretrial publicity.

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