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Continued: Jury to hear final arguments in Smith intruder shooting trial

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 29, 2014 - 6:31 AM

“Oh my God!” Kifer screamed, while gunshots rang out.

“You’re dying … bitch,” Smith responded.

Prosecutors said Smith fired nine times using two different guns.

Later, he is heard on the recording saying he did his “civic duty,” and “I don’t see them as human. I see them as vermin.”

Smith left the teens’ bodies in a basement workroom until the following day when he called a neighbor, asking for help finding a lawyer. The neighbor called police.

When asked outside the courtroom whether Smith might want to address the audiotape, Meshbesher said, “I’m going to address it for him” in closing arguments.

Troubled histories

The weeklong trial was marked with several motions for a mistrial by Meshbesher, who sought to bring in evidence about trouble in Brady’s and Kifer’s pasts. After the shootings, Brady was linked to two felony burglaries of Smith’s property in the previous months when a friend of his pleaded guilty to helping Brady steal items from Smith’s residence. Kifer had 19 “contacts” with law enforcement ranging from traffic stops to reports of suspicious activity or threats.

Judge Douglas Anderson had ruled before the trial that the victims’ reputations and histories weren’t relevant because Smith didn’t know who Brady and Kifer were when he fired his gun.

Smith had thought that a neighbor girl had been involved with the break-ins, possibly keeping watch, according to testimony at trial.

Friends described Kifer, a senior at Little Falls High School, as a kind girl and competitive athlete who struggled with drug abuse.

Brady, friends said, was an outgoing junior at Pillager High School, who worked at his father’s tree-trimming business.

Byron Smith’s brother Bruce Smith, neighbor Kathleen Lange and 16-year-old neighbor John Lange testified that they believe Smith is an honest person. Smith has been living with the Langes since the shootings.

On his cross-exam of John Lange, prosecutor Pete Orput asked: “It’s well known around here that you don’t mess with that guy”?

Meshbesher objected to that question and asked for a mistrial.

After court recessed for the day, Brady’s grandfather, Steve Schaeffel, said that mentally and emotionally the family had been “a wreck” through the trial and that hearing and seeing the evidence of the cousins’ deaths was “brutal.”

Attorneys on both sides are slated to give their closing arguments starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The jury will be sequestered for their deliberations.

 

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  • Attorney Steve Meshbesher, right, walks his client Byron Smith into the courtroom at the Morrison County Courthouse in Little Falls April 28, 2014. (Courtney Perry/Special to the Tribune)

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