Editorial: Justice is found in Little Falls murders
When the trial was over, the Morrison County jury took just three hours to convict Byron Smith of Little Falls on four counts of murder for killing two teen intruders in his home.
Smith was found guilty of two counts each of first-degree and second-degree murder in the deaths of Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, at his secluded rural Little Falls home on Thanksgiving Day 2012.
Under state law, Minnesota owners can take an intruders life if they fear death or great bodily harm or they are acting to prevent a felony.
His own planning and audio tapes of the incident played a significant role in convincing the jury that Smith planned and carrying out a premeditated execution plan.
Brady and Kifer were guilty of attempted burglary and deserved to be arrested and tried on those charges. They did not deserve to be executed by a jury of one.
Smith rightfully felt violated and scared by the series of robberies on his property. That is understandable. However, he had not been directly threatened in his house by anyone with a gun.
Smith quickly crossed the line when he planned his burglary trap plan, set up an audio taping system, moved his truck to a neighbors to fake his absence, waited for many hours in his home before the teens entered, observed the teens on an outside surveillance system he had set up, waited for them to enter his home, then shot both teens ambush style as they entered the basement and then executed both of them with final shots at close range.
The jury rightly determined that a jury of one was not reasonable and that Smith was guilty of murder.
The sad part is that Smith’s fateful decision took the lives of the two teens and brought him a sentence of life in prison.
The families of Brady, Kifer and Smith and the Little Falls community will never be the same.