Trial of Little Falls homeowner who shot, killed 2 teens set to begin


The trial of a Little Falls-area man who admitted to shooting and killing two teenaged cousins who broke into his house on Thanksgiving Day in 2012 is set to begin.

After months of legal motions and pretrial hearings, jury selection in Byron Smith's murder trial will begin Monday. It is expected to take several days, the St. Cloud Times says.

Smith, 65, faces two first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17, who were shot multiple times by Smith in his basement. Smith has argued that he fired at the teens in defense of 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.

Smith admitted to police that he shot Brady after he entered his home. Smith is accused of dragging the boy's body into a workshop in his basement and wrapping his body 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 of the break-in, and a digital audio recorder caught audio of the shootings, according to court records. The criminal complaint against him 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 is accused of leaving their bodies in his house for a day before authorities were notified.

The jury will have to determine if, considering the circumstances, what Smith did was a decision "a reasonable person would have made in light of the danger perceived," the Star Tribune says.

The case, which has generated much debate, could serve as a test to how far Minnesotans may go legally in protecting themselves against intruders, FOX 9 notes.

Smith has been free since posting $50,000 conditional bail. If he is convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, Smith could face a mandatory life prison sentence.

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