Judge won't dismiss first degree murder charges in Little Falls case

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A Morrison County judge has refused to throw out first-degree murder charges against a Little Falls-area man who shot two teenagers after they broke into his home last Thanksgiving.

The St. Cloud Times reports Judge Douglas Anderson also denied a motion to suppress some of the evidence collected at the home of Byron Smith. Smith has said he killed Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17, in self-defense.

After prosecutors filed second-degree murder charges, they convened a grand jury which indicted Smith on first-degree charges in April.

As the Star Tribune reports, the defense argued prosecutors made mistakes in presenting the case to the grand jury, but Judge Anderson rejected that claim Monday.

The case has generated debate about how far Minnesotans may go in protecting themselves against intruders. Prosecutors say Smith was waiting for the teenage cousins when they entered his basement and shot each of them multiple times. The criminal complaint against him says Smith can be heard taunting the wounded teens in between shots.

If he's convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, Smith would face a mandatory life prison sentence.

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