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Minnesota high court won't hear Little Falls murder charge appeal

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The Minnesota Supreme Court won't hear the appeal of a Little Falls-area man in the deaths of two teenagers who broke into his house on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.

Byron Smith, 65, had petitioned the state Supreme Court to review a Morrison County judge's decision to let his first-degree murder indictment stand. Smith's lawyers have argued prosecutors made mistakes in presenting the case to a grand jury. Smith's lawyers also asked the Morrison County judge to suppress statements that Smith made to investigators after the shootings, which the judge denied.

But the high court, without comment, denied Smith's petition on Tuesday, according to the St. Cloud Times.

In April 2013, a grand jury indicted Smith on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17, who were shot by Smith in his basement. Smith has argued that he fired at the teens in defending his home from intruders, but prosecutors say he crossed a line.

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.

Smith has been free since posting $50,000 conditional bail. He is scheduled to stand trial April 14, the St. Cloud Times says. If he is convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, Smith could face a mandatory life prison sentence.

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