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Jury takes over in Norcross murder trial

LAWRENCEVILLE - Testimony concluded and the jury began its deliberations in the felony murder trial of a 28-year-old Atlanta man.

Larry Daniely is charged with felony murder, murder, aggravated assault and possessing a knife during the commission of a felony in the April 1, 2008, stabbing death of Michael Anthony Black Jr., 19.

While both sides agree that Daniely stabbed and killed Black at the Norcross Extended Stay hotel, they disagree on the circumstances and reasoning.

During his closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Jon Setzer said the incident was "just a fight" and that stabbing Black "was not a reasonable response to what was going on."

Setzer said Black stepped in between Daniely and his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Martinez, as the two argued. The fight escalated, and Daniely produced a knife, Setzer said, stabbing Black once in the chest.

"Michael Black Jr. had no weapons," Setzer said. "(Daniely) had malice in his heart ... that makes him a murderer."

Defense attorney Scott Estes said Black hit Daniely from behind and that Black's girlfriend attacked him with a beer bottle. He said his client tried unsuccessfully to disengage from the altercation.

"This is definitely a self-defense situation," Estes said.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated about two hours Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor recessed court for the day at about 5 p.m.

Batchelor said that in addition to a conviction or acquittal, the jury can, on both murder charges, find Daniely guilty of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Court will reconvene at 9 a.m. today.