An outside attorney has agreed to prosecute a high-profile case in Morrison County where a Little Falls man is accused of shooting to death a pair of teen cousins, the Pioneer Press reports.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said the Minnesota County Attorney's Association asked him to try the case against Byron D. Smith, who has been charged with second-degree murder following the shooting deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17, in his home on Thanksgiving.
Smith, 64, admitted to the shooting the teens multiple times, claiming self-defense, but investigators say his actions went beyond that.
The case has raised questions over the "castle doctrine" and a homeowner's use of firearms to defend their property.
The Morrison County Attorney's Office asked with help prosecuting the case because they are dealing with unprecedented nine homicide-related cases at the same time, the Pioneer Press reported. Earlier this month, the Minnesota Attorney General denied Morrison County's request to defend the case.
Orput, who has previously worked for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office and the Minnesota Attorney General, says he has "reviewed and prosecuted cases that involve the concept of defense of dwelling," according to the Pioneer Press.
Smith was released from jail Dec. 18 after posting $50,000 cash in a conditional bail where was forced to surrender his passport and all of his firearms.
Smith's next hearing is set for Jan. 22.