An East Farmingdale stock broker has been acquitted of stabbing a onetime friend and neighbor to death.

A Suffolk County Court jury on Tuesday found Bobby Costic, 44, not guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the death of William Scott, 39, apparently believing Costic's testimony that he was acting in self-defense.

The Suffolk district attorney's office confirmed the acquittal, but declined to comment further.

The fight between the two men took place after Costic refused to join a party in the street outside Scott's East Farmingdale home.

Costic said he had just stopped drinking and was about to enter a rehabilitation program, but Scott was drunk, high and aggressive, and Costic wanted no part of it.

"He had beer muscles," Costic said in an interview. "He pushed too much that day, and I had to defend myself. If I didn't pull the knife, I would have been on the other end of the stick."

Costic stabbed Scott in the abdomen, severing his aorta.

"Willie got stabbed," said Costic's attorney, Joseph Hanshe of Sayville. "Willie had a chair in his hand, and he was smashing Bobby in the head with it."

The two had been friends since childhood, but drifted apart when Costic focused on his sobriety, Hanshe said.

The final rift between them came after Scott left crack in Costic's car, he said.

Hanshe said Costic is a decorated Army veteran who served in Kuwait and Iraq.

The jury deliberated four hours before returning the verdict in Judge Martin Efman's Suffolk County Court courtroom, Hanshe said.

Costic said he wasn't sure how he would move forward after spending most of the last two years in jail awaiting trial.

"I'm just trying to get my head back together with my family," he said. "My job is pretty much shot now."

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