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Published: Thursday, 8/14/2003

Monroe County jury deliberates murder case

MONROE - A Monroe County jury is to begin a second day of deliberations this morning in the case of a Newport, Mich., man charged with open murder for stabbing a 25-year-old man with a three-foot sword in October at a Frenchtown Township mobile home park.

James Trampas Read, 29, has been on trial since Monday.

Judge Michael LaBeau, who is presiding over the Circuit Court trial, dismissed the jury for the day at 4:30 p.m. yesterday, the 10-month anniversary of the day Mr. Read is accused of killing Jeffrey Kenney, 25, of Monroe after a night of drinking and fighting.

During three days of testimony, Mr. Read's attorney, James Davies, argued that his client killed Mr. Kenney in self-defense, to stop the former tailback from choking Mr. Read's twin brother, Travis.

Mr. Read took the stand on his own behalf, telling the seven-man, five-woman jury his brother's face was purple, and he thought Mr. Kenney was killing him when he picked up a Samurai sword, unsheathed it, and stabbed Mr. Kenney in the upper back.

County Prosecutor John Marunick argued that Mr. Read could have stopped the attack by a less lethal means, including using several other weapons readily available to him when Mr. Kenney broke into the brothers' home.

All three had been drinking and fighting for several hours before the stabbing, which occurred about 8:30 a.m.

Mr. Kenney, a standout running back on Jefferson High School's state champion 1994 football team whom Mr. Davies described as a large, imposing man, was a millwright, as are the Read brothers. The three men were acquaintances who occasionally worked together, authorities said.

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