The trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing a fisherman along the St. Croix River will be heard by a jury brought in from outside the county where the incident took place because of the intense media coverage the case has received.
Judge Molly GaleWyrick ruled Wednesday that the jurors who will decide the fate of 19-year-old Levi Acre-Kendall will come from outside of Polk County, Wisconsin, KARE 11 reports.
GaleWyrick said that while the news coverage of the case has been neutral, the comments made by readers on articles and on social media have been "inflammatory and could impact jurors," the TV station notes.
Acre-Kendall is charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the fatal stabbing of 34-year-old wrestling coach Peter Kelly on April 14. It followed a verbal argument on opposite sides of the river that turned physical, when Kelly and his friend drove to the other side of the bank to confront Acre-Kendall's group.
The Star Tribune reports that Acre-Kendall's attorney Eric Nelson filed a motion to change the venue of the trial because of the publicity the case had received, a request Judge GaleWyrick turned down.
Jury selection for the trial will take place on Dec. 3 and 4, with the two-week trial set to begin Dec. 7. The judge has not yet decided from which county the jury pool will come, according to the newspaper.
The judge also turned down Nelson's motion to have the charges against Acre-Kendall dropped due to the "castle doctrine," which gives legal protections to people facing violence in their home, business or on their property, KSTP reports.
Acre-Kendall was inside a car trying to flee when Kelly was alleged to have put him in "a shoulder lock" and tried to pull him from the vehicle, KSTP notes, which is when Kelly was stabbed in the chest.
WCCO reports Judge GaleWyrick agreed with the prosecutor's argument that the motion was premature. She said she will leave making a decision until the trial.