"I didn't want him to die," Daniel Smith told the High Court at Timaru yesterday during his retrial for the murder of teenager William Peter Lewis.
Smith, 20, has pleaded not guilty to fatally stabbing Lewis three times in the back in Oamaru, about 9.45pm on April 1, 2010.
Smith's defence lawyer, Christopher Stevenson, said his client had acted in self-defence after Lewis and another teenager threatened him.
"He [Smith] reacted defensively because he was under attack," Stevenson told the jury.
In addressing the court before the accused took the stand, Stevenson asked the jury to keep in mind his client was only 16 years old at the time of the killing.
In recalling the events from the evening of April 1, Smith told the court he was walking home when Lewis (better known as Will) and Donovan Smith (no relation to the accused) came up to him on the corner of Thames and Exe Sts.
There had been an earlier incident involving the accused and Lewis, in which the court heard Lewis tried to pick a fight with the accused outside Dominos.
"I was walking home and heard someone shout out my name again ... I realised it was Will again," Smith said.
The court heard how Lewis had pushed Smith up against a hedge "with open hands".
Smith said he felt intimidated and had no option but to walk down Exe St. He said both Lewis and Donovan Smith followed him.
He said he didn't turn his back fully to the pair as he "didn't feel safe".
Smith said Lewis then started pushing him towards a parked car, grabbing at his hoodie.
"I get out of his grip and fixed my hoodie back up ... then I saw he was about to hit me ... he was turning to the side and his fist was closed."
The defence asked Smith to demonstrate how Lewis had positioned his body.
When Stevenson asked why he had used the knife, Smith replied: "I thought that I was about to get my head kicked in or something worse. I was trying to protect myself."
Smith said he then swung the knife "wide" at Lewis.
He said Lewis was still standing when he took off running.
Crown prosecutor Andrew McRae questioned Smith why he had not sought help if he had felt frightened and intimidated.
McRae told Smith his actions were not one of a person who was scared, instead they were the actions of someone who was angry.
"You knew stabbing someone in the back could cause death."
The court heard how earlier in the day, Smith had texted his girlfriend about a fight he had with his father.
McRae also read out one text message Smith sent his girlfriend shortly before the altercation in which he asked her permission to fight "just this once".
"There was ample time for you to run away if you truly were scared ... you could have pulled the knife and threatened him with it ... but it escalated because you were angry and knew what you were doing."
The retrial is expected to finish today.
- The Timaru Herald