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March 21: Murder indictment stands in Little Falls shooting

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE
  • Star Tribune
  • April 12, 2014 - 6:30 PM

The state’s high court has denied a Little Falls man’s request to reconsider a first-degree murder indictment against him in the shooting deaths of two teens who broke into his home.

Byron David Smith, 65, had sought a review by the Minnesota Supreme Court after a Morrison County grand jury issued the indictment in April and a district judge let it stand. The state Court of Appeals denied a review of the charges in January. Without comment, the Supreme Court also declined this week to hear the appeal.

Smith’s trial is scheduled for mid-April.

He is charged in the 2012 Thanksgiving Day shooting deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin Nick Brady, 17, after they broke into Smith’s home just north of town. Prosecutors have said that Smith shot the unarmed teens multiple times after wounding them as they walked down his basement stairs several minutes apart.

Smith’s defense attorney had filed appeals seeking to dismiss the indictment against Smith, a retired U.S. State Department employee who set up security systems for embassies. The defense contended that prosecutors made too many mistakes in presenting the case to the grand jury, including eliciting irrelevant testimony from the teens’ mothers to “impassion the grand jury to indict.”

The case ignited debate over how far a homeowner can go to defend himself and protect his property.

Pam Louwagie

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