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Byron Smith files appeal of conviction for killing 2 Little Falls teens

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Attorneys for Byron Smith, the Little Falls man convicted last year of first-degree murder for killing two teenagers who had broken into his home, have filed a 51-page brief with the Minnesota Supreme Court outlining why they believe his conviction should be overturned, the Star Tribune reports.

The move was expected, as Smith's attorneys filed papers with the Supreme Court last June indicating their intention to appeal.

Smith, 66, was found guilty in April 2014 on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder for fatally shooting cousins Haile Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17, after they broke into his Little Falls home on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Smith’s trial brought to the forefront a debate over how far a homeowner can go to protect himself from intruders. Smith had argued that he fired at the two teenagers to defend his home from intruders, which is legal in Minnesota.

But the jury agreed with the prosecution, which said Smith had planned the attack ahead of time and crossed the line by continuing to shoot the teens after they were already injured and no longer posed a threat.

In the brief filed Monday, Smith’s attorneys argued the presiding judge made several errors that prevented them from providing Smith a "complete defense," according to the Star Tribune.

They repeated an issue they raised after Smith's conviction – that the judge did not allow the defense to introduce evidence about the teens’ histories, including court documents that showed Brady had broken into Smith’s house and garage before.

The attorneys are asking the high court to vacate Smith’s conviction and either dismiss his first-degree murder indictment or send his case back to district court for a new trial, according to the Star Tribune.

Separately, Smith has been ordered to pay the families of the two victims $21,000 in restitution.

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