- Associated Press - Friday, December 11, 2015

BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) - A Minnesota man on trial in the death of a fisherman along the St. Croix River testified Friday that he feared for his life before he fatally stabbed him but is sorry he did it.

Levi Acre-Kendall, 20, of Cambridge, Minnesota, took the stand in his own defense in Polk County Circuit Court. He’s charged with first-degree reckless homicide and second-degree intentional homicide for killing Peter Kelly, 34, of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, during an argument while fishing along the river on April 14. The defense argues that the stabbing was in self-defense.

“He said he was going to beat me up, and I was scared. I knew he was bigger than me and he could kill me,” Acre-Kendall said.

The incident began when two groups of men fishing on different sides of the river at Interstate State Park got into a taunting, shouting match of slurs and vulgarities. Kelly and his group of friends eventually drove over and confronted Acre-Kendall and his friends.

Acre-Kendall sobbed and covered his head with his hands as he said he now feels terrible.

“I wish I could take it all back. I wish I could change it,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”

Acre-Kendall said Kelly grabbed his neck and shoulder and pulled him out of his friend’s car.

“‘You want to feel a real man’s muscles?’” he said Kelly remarked.

He said he was trying to push Kelly off, and was bent over, looking at the ground, when he stabbed him.

“The last thing I remember seeing was his tennis shoes and my flip flops, and I stabbed him,” he said.

District Attorney Dan Steffen pointed out discrepancies in Acre-Kendall’s testimony and questioned why he didn’t immediately report the stabbing to police. Acre-Kendall and his friends passed two police squad cars as they fled, and they turned themselves into authorities at different times. Acre-Kendall surrendered two days after the stabbing.

Closing arguments are set for Saturday, followed by jury deliberations.

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