TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) – A Fall River woman has been convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing a Taunton woman to death with steak knives in a fight over a man.

A jury in Taunton Superior Court deliberated a day and a half before finding Karen Cordeiro, 22, guilty of second-degree murder Tuesday in the February 2005 death of Courtney Sau.

Cordeiro faced a more serious first-degree murder charge, but the jury chose the lesser charge that carries a life sentence with the chance for parole after 15 years.

Cordeiro and her roommate, Carla Carvalho, left their apartment in Fall River to confront Sau, who was outside, authorities said.

Cordeiro then stabbed Sau in the neck and back with two steak knives, prosecutors said.

Carvalho is scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 20 charged with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing Sau with a broken beer bottle.

The three women had apparently had an argument at a Providence night club just hours before Sau’s death regarding Carvalho’s relationship with Sau’s ex-boyfriend.

Cordeiro’s lawyer, Francis O’Boy, argued that his client acted in self defense and was merely protecting her roommate after Sau had driven to Fall River looking for a confrontation.

“I’m very bitterly disappointed in the verdict,” O’Boy said.

The prosecution argued, however, that Cordeiro could have locked her doors and called police, but instead chose to go outside and confront Sau with the steak knives. Sau was in her car and unarmed, authorities said.

Sau’s family and friends shouted with joy when the verdict was read. Many members of Cordeiro’s family cried. Cordeiro sat mostly motionless.

Karen Sau, Courtney Sau’s mother, delivered an emotional impact statement in court, talking about her daughter’s kickboxing skills, her love for art, dancing and laughing.

“She was a fierce and loyal friend,” Karen Sau said. “She looked for good in everyone she met.” Tuesday would have been Courtney Sau’s 21st birthday.

Information from: The Herald News, http://www.heraldnews.com

AP-ES-01-24-07 0749EST