The trial of a Little Falls man who admitted to shooting and killing two teenagers who broke into his home begins Mondaywith opening statements, after jury selection was completed last week, FOX 9 reports.
Seven men and seven women will hear testimony in the case against Byron Smith, 65, who faces two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady, 17.
The two broke into Smith's Little Falls home on Thanksgiving Day 2012 and he shot them multiple times. Smith has argued that he fired at the teens defending his home from intruders, which is legal in Minnesota, but prosecutors say he crossed a line when he continued to fire at the unarmed teens after they were injured.
The Little Falls community is divided over whether or not Smith should be convicted. Joseph Daly, a retired Hamline law professor, told KARE 11 the belief that a man's home is his castle is deeply ingrained in our society.
"In fact, it's called the castle doctrine. In some states, somebody breaks into your home you are allowed to shoot them dead. Period," said Daly.
Minnesota's law is based on the "reasonable person doctrine," Daly told KARE.
"If a reasonable person would see you are in fear of great bodily harm of death. That's our statute. It comes down to what would a reasonable person see in this situation for Mr. Smith?" said Daly.
Smith admitted to police that he shot Brady as the teen was walking down the stairs to the basement. Smith is accused of dragging the boy’s body into a workshop and wrapping it in a tarp and then waiting for Kifer. Minutes later, Smith shot and killed Kifer as she walked down the stairs, court documents say.
Surveillance equipment captured video and audio of the break-in, according to court records. The criminal complaint says Smith can be heard taunting the wounded teens in between shots.
Smith acknowledged that he “fired more shots than I needed to,” according to the criminal complaint. Smith also kept the bodies in his house and waited an entire day before asking a neighbor to call the police.
If Smith is convicted, he faces a possible life sentence in prison with no possibility of parole.