MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Details emerged Tuesday about how investigators got on the trail of the Cambridge man accused of killing a St. Croix Falls father of five.
It was day two of the homicide trial in Balsam, Wisconsin for Levi Acre-Kendall, who investigators say stabbed Peter Kelly to death following a dispute along the St. Croix River last April.
Monday’s testimony was emotional, but Tuesday’s was graphic with bloody crime scene photos and graphic autopsy images.
The day ended as jurors heard from the friends who were with Acre-Kendall that fatal night. One of them was Jacob Mossberg, who recalled a cross-river shouting match, which grew louder as they smoked marijuana.
“Honestly, that’s the first time I brought marijuana to the park,” he said.
Mossberg had trouble recalling events as Levi was pushed to the ground, then got to his feet holding a knife
Polk County investigator Andrew Vitalis began the day’s testimony by playing a videotape of the crime scene, showing where Peter Kelly fell and his buddy’s frantic efforts to get access to a cell phone in Kelly’s locked car to call 911.
Jake Mossberg knew it was bad when he saw the bloodied knife, but it was the next morning that another friend called to say Kelly was dead. Shortly after that, three of them met with an attorney in Cambridge.
Vitalis documented a long blood trail coming from the crime scene. Evidence from the area was preserved with flags and covered.
“It’s what appears to be some sort of a tackle box and some drug paraphernalia items,” Vitalis said in the video.
Kelly’s friend Ross Lechman says the killing stemmed from an argument with Acre-Kendall over vulgar language and smoking pot. Two store receipts found near the scene led investigators to the four suspects, along with a text message from a friend.
“We thought a third party identified as Levi Acre-Kendall was probably our primary suspect,” Rick Gearhart of the Polk County Sheriff’s Department said.
Acre-Kendall sat with his head in his hands much of the day, especially when graphic photos of Kelly’s autopsy were shown to jurors.
Dr. Michael Madsen performed the autopsy and testified at the trial Tuesday, indicating the cause of death as a stab wound to the chest.
Jurors also saw the knife believed to be used in the attack, handed over to investigators by Acre-Kendall’s mother.
Testimony also revealed Kelly’s blood alcohol was about half the legal limit. Defense tried to establish that may have had a role in his judgement that night. Ross Lechman testified Monday that they each drank four Red Ales.