THE BRONX - A Bronx man accused of fatally beating a man who broke into his home and attempted to rape his wife had his charges downgraded Wednesday, but his supporters are calling for them to be dropped entirely.

Police say 61-year-old Mamadou Diallo was originally facing manslaughter charges after beating 43-year-old Earl Nash to death with a tire iron inside the elevator of his 1240 Washington Ave. apartment building in Morrisania. Diallo is now facing reduced charges of assault, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment.

"I want them to drop all of the charges because this one is like self-defense," says Elhadj Diallo, a relative. "Someone attacks you on the street, it's different then coming to your house. If someone comes into your house, you will do everything to get the person away from your family."

Police say Diallo told investigators that he rushed to his wife's aid in their home around 10 p.m. Monday after she called him and told him a man broke into their home and attacked her. 

Nash broke into the apartment and assaulted 51-year-old Nenegale Diallo, police say, striking her on the head and ripping her clothes off.

Diallo was released from custody and is due back in court on June 27.

Supporters cheered him as he left the courthouse Tuesday night. Neighbors cheered him again Wednesday when he left his home.

"If anyone touches my family, I fight for my family," he said, making his first public comments since the incident. He also said he had some remorse for the end result.

"Yea, I feel bad," he told News 12. "I'm fighting for my family and myself. I don't want to be a hero. I don't want to be a killer."

Diallo's lawyer, Anthony Michaels, says his client and his wife are the victims in this case.

Diallo has a history as a law-abiding citizen, whereas Nash had a number of prior arrests.