St. Croix murder trial begins with defendant claiming self-defense

The trial for a Minnesota man charged with the stabbing of a Wisconsin fisherman began on Monday, December 7, in Wisconsin. The trial centers around 20-year-old Levi Acre-Kendall, who stabbed 34-year-old Peter Kelly on the St. Croix River last spring after an altercation between the two and their friends.

A man who was fishing with Kelly at the time of the incident, Ross Lechman, claimed the fight started after Acre-Kendall and his friends were making loud, crude remarks and smoking marijuana while fishing. Kelly and Lechman, two fathers who frequently fished the river together, drove across the body of water to confront the group. The argument quickly escalated from there.

It is currently unclear which party was more aggressive during the argument. Lechman, who took the stand on the first day of the trial, said that he soon realized Lechman had been stabbed during the scuffle and ran over to help him. Shortly after, Lechman died of stab wounds inflicted by Acre-Kendall, who drove away after inflicting the fatal injuries.

While Acre-Kendall and his attorneys have admitted that the defendant did stab Kelly, they claim it was in self-defense. The jury must determine whether or not they believe the defendant was acting out of self-preservation or if he was the aggressor. Acre-Kendall faces one count of first-degree reckless homicide and one count of second-degree intentional homicide. The trial is expected to last two weeks.