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Jury deliberating in stabbing death of Wisconsin fisherman

Levi Acre-Kendall breaks down while testifying during his murder trial in Polk County Circuit Court in Balsam Lake, Wis., on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. Kendall is accused of fatally stabbing 34-year-old Peter Kelly of St. Croix Falls after an argument while fishing along the river in April. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

Levi Acre-Kendall breaks down while testifying during his murder trial in Polk County Circuit Court in Balsam Lake on Friday. Kendall is accused of fatally stabbing 34-year-old Peter Kelly of St. Croix Falls after an argument while fishing along the river in April. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) — Jurors began deliberating the case Saturday of a 20-year-old Minnesota man accused of fatally stabbing a Wisconsin fisherman after an argument along the St. Croix River.

The jury deliberated for a few hours Saturday and will resume their work Sunday.

Jury deliberations began after the two sides wrapped up closing arguments before a packed courtroom Saturday afternoon, the Star Tribune reported.

Polk County District Attorney Dan Steffen accused defendant Levi Acre-Kendall of Cambridge, Minn., of “a reckless act” in the stabbing death of 34-year-old Peter Kelly of St. Croix Falls during a confrontation between two groups of anglers on the banks of the river last April.

“You can clearly see the picture here,” Steffen told jurors, adding that the main element missing from that picture is Kelly, who can’t tell his side of the story. He put a large photo of Kelly’s family up on a courtroom screen, bringing tears from the victim’s family members.

The prosecutor again sought to poke holes in Acre-Kendall’s testimony, saying his sarcastic remarks before the stabbing show he wasn’t really frightened of Kelly. He also sought to show that Acre-Kendall was in great physical shape and Kelly was not noticeably stronger or bigger than the defendant.

Steffen also stressed the prosecution’s argument that Acre-Kendall and his friends did not seek immediate help for Kelly after he was stabbed and concocted a story to try to cover up what really happened.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Eric Nelson asked jurors to imagine themselves in Acre-Kendall’s place to judge whether he acted in self-defense. Kelly’s words and actions were clearly threatening, Nelson said.

Nelson also addressed Steffen’s assertions that Acre-Kendall and his friends tried to hide evidence of their actions, including disposing of marijuana and heading home after the stabbing.

“This is not a master criminal plot. This is panic,” Nelson said.

Acre-Kendall has been on trial for first-degree reckless homicide and second-degree intentional homicide in Kelly’s death. In an unusual move, a third charge was added Saturday morning, of second-degree reckless homicide.

Acre-Kendall took the stand in his own defense Friday. He tearfully testified that he feared for his life before he fatally stabbed Kelly but is sorry he did it.

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