Teen stabbed fisherman on St. Croix in self-defense, attorney says

Levi C. Acre-Kendall
Levi C. Acre-Kendall
Courtesy Polk County Sheriff

A lawyer representing a 19-year-old man who stabbed a Wisconsin fisherman to death says charges should be dismissed because the teenager was acting in self-defense.

Levi Acre-Kendall of Cambridge, Minn., is charged with first degree reckless homicide in the killing of 35-year-old Peter Kelly of St. Croix Falls, Wis. He's also charged with bail jumping.

The confrontation occurred on April 14 at Interstate Park on the St. Croix River shortly before 10 p.m. Kelly and a friend — identified as Ross Lechman — were fishing on the Minnesota side of the river when they got into an argument with Acre-Kendall and three of his friends on the Wisconsin side, according to the original charges.

Prosecutors say that Kelly and Lechman drove over to the Wisconsin side of the river where they confronted the young men, which led to Acre-Kendall stabbing Kelly.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson filed documents in Polk County Circuit Court last week arguing that Kelly and Lechman parked their car a substantial distance away from Acre-Kendall and his friends, and discussed whether they could "take" them in a fight.

Acre-Kendall's friends say the two men emerged unexpectedly out of the dark and that Acre-Kendall was tackled and insulted. Acre-Kendall had a knife but told Kelly he didn't want a fight, according to defense documents.

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Nelson alleges that Acre-Kendall took refuge from Kelly in the passenger side of his friend's car. His friends say Kelly tried to pull Acre-Kendall out of the vehicle when he was stabbed. Kelly was pronounced dead at St. Croix Regional Medical Center.

Because Acre-Kendall got into his friend's car, his lawyer is arguing that he should be covered by Wisconsin's "Castle Doctrine," which presumes that Acre-Kendall used force to prevent himself from being killed or harmed.

The defense documents ask the court to dismiss charges against Acre-Kendall. As an alternative, the lawyer asks that the judge give the jury instructions consistent with the state's self-defense law that they can't consider the reasonableness of the act or whether Acre-Kendall had the opportunity to flee.

Acre-Kendall's attorney is also asking for a change of venue and dismissal of the charges against him for bail jumping. The district attorney filed motions in the bail jumping case on Monday that would restrict the character evidence that could be presented by defense.

Motions will be considered at Acre-Kendall's next court hearing, which is scheduled for July 15.