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State Supreme Court upholds murder conviction for man who shot teens

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's highest court affirmed Byron Smith's murder convictions for shooting and killing two teenaged intruders in his home. The state Supreme Court ruled there were not enough errors in the 2014 trial to warrant re-hearing the case.

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota’s highest court affirmed Byron Smith’s murder convictions for shooting and killing two teenaged intruders in his home.

The state Supreme Court ruled there were not enough errors in the 2014 trial to warrant re-hearing the case.

Smith, 67, was convicted of murder after killing Halie Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17, when they broke into his Little Falls home in 2012. The Thanksgiving Day killings were done in self-defense, Smith’s attorneys argued.

Justice David Lillehaug wrote in his 43-page decision that the Morrison County District Court had not erred when it closed the trial for a short time during discussion on a pretrial issue, nor did it violate Smith’s right to a complete defense by excluding certain evidence.

Smith is serving a life sentence in prison for the deaths.

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According to court documents, Smith’s home had been burglarized before, but prosecutors argued Smith baited Kifer and Brady by parking his car blocks away from his house and sneaking in the back door when he suspected his house was being watched. Smith had set up surveillance cameras and sat in his basement with two guns, waiting for intruders with an audio recording device on.

Smith admitted to shooting Brady twice at point-blank range as he walked down the stairs into Smith’s basement. Kifer followed about 10 minutes later, and was shot five times before being dragged into another room and place on top of Brady’s body on a tarp. Smith shot Kifer a sixth time as she laid on top of Brady.

In speaking with police after reporting the shootings the next day, Smith explained he had been victimized by burglars in the past and how he was only defending his property. Smith likened the pair to vermin and said he needed to kill them to prevent future break-ins. The voice recorder Smith used to document the break-in also stressed the need to protect his property.

“If they’re found guilty they might spend... six months, two years in jail and then they’re out, and they need money worse than ever and they’re filled with revenge,” Smith’s voice on the recording said. “I cannot live a life like that.”

It is legal in Minnesota to take a life to prevent a felony in their home or avoid death or great bodily harm, but the jury in Smith’s case determined he had gone beyond what a reasonable person would do in light of the danger he was facing.

Related Topics: CRIME
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