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Milwaukee man faces life in prison for murder in Appleton

APPLETON - A Milwaukee man faces a life prison sentence after being convicted of killing a man who was celebrating his 23rd birthday near Appleton.

A jury in Outagamie County deliberated four-and-a-half hours yesterday before finding 26-year-old Michael Potts guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and two counts of bail jumping. A sentencing date was not immediately set.

Defense lawyer John Smerlinski tried to convince the jury that a co-defendant actually shot Artheddius Peeler outside an apartment complex in the town of Grand Chute in the fall of 2008. But Smerlinski said quote, "The jury wanted to believe other sets of facts." He claimed that Potts's friend, Keith Birr of Appleton, pulled the trigger. But witnesses said Birr handed Potts the gun. Authorities said the two argued with Peeler earlier about the noise he was making. They ended the argument but returned later with a handgun.

Birr has pleaded innocent to being a party to homicide. His trial date has not been set.