BELFAST (AP) – A Searsport man was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault Wednesday in the stabbing death of his younger brother last fall.

A Waldo County Superior Court jury deliberated less than two hours before returning the verdict on Michael Nickerson, 50. Nickerson had been charged with manslaughter and assault in the fatal stabbing of his brother, 44-year-old Charlie Nickerson, at a house they shared in Searsport.

During the two-day trial, Assistant Attorney General Fern LaRochelle told jurors that Michael Nickerson used excessive force when he retaliated when his brother beat on him. He said Nickerson may not have intended to kill his brother, but that he is responsible for the death because he acted in a reckless and negligent manner.

Nickerson’s attorney, Steven Peterson, told jurors his client acted in self-defense. He asked jurors what might have happened had Nickerson not retaliated.

On the first day of the trial, Peterson said that Charlie Nickerson had sucker-punched Mike, and that the older brother instinctively grabbed the knife to defend himself.

Nickerson has been held in jail since his arrest three days after the slaying last November.

AP-ES-07-25-07 1825EDT

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