The Minnesota man charged with fatally stabbing a fisherman along the St. Croix River in April will proceed to trial on allegations that he violated the terms of his bond when he tweeted about his victim.
Levi Acre-Kendall, 19, appeared Thursday morning in Polk County Circuit Court in Balsam Lake, Wis., on two counts of felony bail-jumping. Judge Molly GaleWyrick found probable cause to proceed to trial, and a motion hearing was scheduled for July 15.
Acre-Kendall, of Cambridge, was originally charged in April with first-degree reckless homicide for allegedly stabbing Peter S. Kelly, 34, on April 14 after two fishing groups argued heatedly.
Authorities allege that Acre-Kendall, who was bailed out of jail on May 7, violated the terms of his release by tweeting that day: “If you are praying for me, please keep the Kelly family in mind as well, I never intended for this to happen and I wish it never did.”
He also allegedly changed his Twitter profile picture to a photo of himself and two friends as children. He was ordered to have no direct or indirect contact, including through social media, with the friends depicted in the photo. Those friends were present when Kelly was killed.
The friends were questioned by authorities, and said that they saw the tweet about Kelly, and that Acre-Kendall then blocked them on Twitter.
A member of Kelly’s family had alerted authorities to the Twitter activity.
Acre-Kendall’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said after the hearing that his client meant no harm.
“It’s an issue that is probably an area where the law has not necessarily caught up with technology,” Nelson said. “I don’t think there was any nefarious intent on Mr. Acre-Kendall’s part to violate the terms of the bail.”
The bail-jumping charges allege that he tweeted 18 times on May 7 and 14 times on May 8, knowing that his friends would see the tweets.
Kelly’s family member identified the May 7 tweet about Kelly and a May 8 tweet that said, “Going to Chipotle to gain back 15 pounds I lost,” as especially bad, the charges said.
Polk County District Attorney Daniel Steffen said social media are no different from traditional communication.
Acre-Kendall is being held on $20,000 bond for the bail-jumping charges. His bail in the homicide case was increased Thursday from $75,000 to $125,000.