BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (WCCO) — It’s now up to the defense to present a case for the Cambridge man accused of killing a St. Croix father of five.

Levi Acre-Kendall is accused of stabbing Peter Kelly to death after the two engaged in a loud argument from across the St. Croix River. Acre-Kendall is claiming he acted in self defense after Kelly and a friend confronted the defendant over alleged pot smoking and loud behavior.

Four days of testimony from fifteen witnesses and the state’s case has rested, ending with the victim’s wife, Christie Kelly who told jurors her husband was reliable, responsible and a great father and coach.

After laying out the facts in its case, prosecution ended with emotion. Peter Kelly’s widow, fought tears as she described telling the couple’s young children, their father was dead.

“We told them to sit on the bed together, and told them, ‘Remember how Dad went fishing last night?’ And they said yes,” she told the court. “Then we said, ‘Something happened, and he died,’ and they screamed.”

Earlier in the trial, the friend of Levi Acre-Kendall’s who tried to prevent the fight, Hank Michaels, returned to the witness stand. He testified when Levi pulled out a knife, Kelly backed off, but became even angrier.

Michaels said Kelly grabbed Acre-Kendall by the shoulders, yanking him from the car. Within seconds, Kelly is stabbed and Acre-Kendall jumps back in the car.

“It was chaotic,” Michaels told the court. “Levi was freaking out. He didn’t know what he just did.”

Another friend of Acre-Kendall who witnessed the incident, Steven Phillips, said he got scared when Kelly’s friend, Ross Lechman pushed Levi to the ground.

“I was scared, because Levi is the strongest one of us and this guy just tossed him to the ground so easily,” Phillips said.

It was the defendant’s father who faced some of the day’s harshest questioning. Prosecutors asked Travis Kendall why he didn’t call 911 after learning what his son had done.

“That sounds to me like you were more concerned about his plate and fishing gear after learning he had just stabbed somwone,” the attorney said.

“I was concerned about his safety,” Kendall replied.

The defense will begin calling its witnesses Friday morning. They’ll have to decide if Levi Acre-Kendall will take the stand in his own defense.

It’s the state’s position that the issue of so-called “castle doctrine” in self defense doesn’t apply outside a person’s home or vehicle. Defense is arguing that he was pulled from the car, and that right of self defense must apply.

In addition, he used an illegal switchblade knife which nullifies the use of that self defense protection.

Bill Hudson

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