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Source: New York Daily News / Getty

Abel Cedeno, the gay Bronx student who defended himself and fatally stabbed his bully and classmate Matthew McCree, testified in his own defense on Tuesday morning and had his second-degree murder charge reduced to manslaughter.

Robert J. Feldman, one of Cedeno’s attorneys, considers the new charge “a huge victory” and says that it “opens the way for a plea deal.”

Earlier that day, supporters of Cedeno and McCree alike rallied outside the Bronx County Hall of Justice. Lynn said there is still a risk that the district attorney will seek an attempted murder charge against Cedeno for using his knife in what he and his attorney describe as an effort to stop his attacker.

“I was trying to get him off me,” Cedeno told Gay City News, saying he knew his bully had gang connections and that many of the students at the school carry weapons. “Knives and, in some cases, guns. … I was afraid for my life.”

Cedeno said that he wanted to just show McCree the knife to ward him off, but the boy continued to punch him anyway. He said he snapped when McCree punched him in the face. “I don’t remember much,” he said.

While McCree’s family members say that the deceased was not a bully or involved in gang activity, supporters of Cedeno have provided screenshots of online postings by gang members who have claimed McCree as their own and vowed to avenge his death. And Cedeno’s sister says their family has received threats.

“We just want justice for Abel,” Vanessa Cedeno said. “No one wanted for this to happen. He was bullied from the sixth grade and would come home with bruises. The schools failed him. My brother should not be in jail. We shouldn’t have to be afraid to be ourselves, especially in school.”