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Minnesota man charged in St. Croix River-side stabbing death

This file photo from the Interstate Park web site is taken from the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River, looking upstream. The Wisconsin boat landing can be seen near the center-right of the frame. 1 / 2
A screenshot from a map of Interstate Park, posted by Friends of Interstate Park, illustrates the location of the boat landing and its surrounding roads and hiking trails.2 / 2

Polk County prosecutors on Friday charged a Cambridge, Minn., man with first-degree reckless homicide in the stabbing death of a Wisconsin man.

Nineteen-year-old Levi Connor Acre-Kendall made his first court appearance Friday in Polk County Circuit Court, where he invoked his right to remain silent and was held on $125,000 cash bond.

He is accused of stabbing to death St. Croix Falls resident Peter S. Kelly after an argument on the shores of the St. Croix River.

A witness at the scene told investigators he was fishing with Kelly on the Minnesota side of Interstate Park when they began exchanging words with fishermen on the Wisconsin side of the river, according to a criminal complaint.

The witness, described as a friend of Kelly’s, told investigators he and Kelly drove across the river to the Wisconsin side of Interstate Park “to confront the individuals.”

The complaint describes a confrontation between Kelly and three people at the Wisconsin state park’s boat landing.

At one point, a man in the other group stepped between Kelly and another man – later identified as Acre-Kendall – “and asked them to settle down,” the witness said in the complaint.

It was at that point that the witness allegedly saw Acre-Kendall pull a knife.  The complaint states Kelly and Acre-Kendall continued to argue as other members of Acre-Kendall’s group moved toward the side of a car.

The witness said in the complaint that he was watching the other men in the group when Kelly told him “we got to go.” Kelly then ran back toward his vehicle before telling the witness, “He stabbed me.”

The witness said he asked Acre-Kendall if he had stabbed Kelly. Acre-Kendall allegedly said something similar to, “Yes. Yes, I stabbed him,” the complaint states.

Acre-Kendall allegedly left with the other men, leaving the witness alone with Kelly. The witness said he broke out a window on Kelly’s vehicle to retrieve a cellphone to call authorities.

Medics responded at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday and found Kelly with a wound to the right side of his chest; he was pronounced dead at 10:35 p.m. at St. Croix Regional Medical Center.

Investigators learned a Walmart receipt left near the crime scene was for an out-of-state fishing license purchased the day before by an Isanti County, Minn., man whose image on store surveillance video matched a description given by the witness.

Polk County investigators met with detectives in Isanti County, who had been approached by a concerned citizen. The man said his son had received a text message saying to “forget” four people, who included Acre-Kendall. The complaint states the text was received shortly after news outlets spread the word seeking suspects in the slaying.

Investigators seeking the men were phoned by a Minnesota lawyer who said he was with three males – two 19-year-olds and a 17-year-old – who wanted to cooperate with law enforcement. Two of the men told investigators that Acre-Kendall stabbed Kelly while he was attempting to pull Acre-Kelly from a car as the group attempted to leave.

Acre-Kendall turned himself in to Polk County authorities on Wednesday afternoon.

The complaint states investigators spoke with his mother, who turned over the knife allegedly used in the stabbing, along with Acre-Kendall’s clothing.

Acre-Kendall’s next hearing is Wednesday, April 22, in Polk County Circuit Court.

Steve Dzubay

Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer from 1995-2016. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.