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Man Goes on Trial for Birthday Party Shooting - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Man Goes on Trial for Birthday Party Shooting

Matthew Stevens Matthew Stevens

White River Junction, Vermont - November 27, 2007

Trial began Tuesday for a South Reading man accused of gunning down his best friend at a birthday party.

Carl Ackley, 44, was shot to death on the front steps of Matthew Stevens' home. Stevens, 47, is being charged with 1st degree murder and he has already admitted he is the one who pulled the trigger.

On Tuesday, Stevens listened as the 9-1-1 call he made the night of the murder was played to the court.

9-1-1 Call: "I just killed my best friend. I can't put pressure on nothing. He's all blown to pieces, I didn't know it was loaded. He was attacking me and I was going to hit him in the head with it and it went off, and he is laying here in a pool of blood."

The shooting happened at Stevens' home in South Reading August 1, 2006. It was Carl Ackley's birthday and a group had gathered there for a party. But, according to police, Stevens and Ackley got into a heated argument after the guests left. Police say Stevens stormed into the trailer, grabbed a .357 Magnum, and shot Ackley to death at point-blank range. However, Stevens' lawyer said the two men were both extremely intoxicated and his client was not conspiring to kill.

"There is nothing to suggest that throughout the course of the day, that Matt Stevens ever developed a plan of the intent in the future to kill his best friend," Stevens' lawyer, David Sleigh, told the court.

Vermont State Police troopers testified during the first day of the trial and crime scene video was shown to the court. The prosecution said that the crime was premeditated even though in the 9-1-1 tape Stevens claims the shooting was an accident.

"Despite his excuses, accident, self defense, insanity, and despite his apologies, this crime was murder," said prosecutor Heidi Woessner.

If Stevens is found guilty on the first degree murder charge, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. The trial is expected to last at least a week.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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