LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) — Less than 24 hours after a Morrison County district court judge cut his $1 million bail in half, the Little Falls man accused of two counts of murder in the deaths of two teenagers was free to go, under deputy protection.

Byron Smith is charged with the Thanksgiving Day slaying of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and her cousin, 17-year-old Nick Brady. Both were shot repeatedly inside Smith’s home after they broke in and walked into the basement where Smith was waiting.

Smith and his supporters put up the necessary $50,000 in cash.

Don Gall, a Little Falls resident, said Smith didn’t ask for “any of this to happen to him.”

“It happened to him,” Gall said. “He didn’t make this happen.”

Others in the community, however, feel strongly that Smith’s release under a reduced bail was wrong.

Mike Marshak said Smith should be in jail.

“I think that’s very cruel what he did to them kids,” Marshak said.

What Smith said was self-defense, Morrison County prosecutors say went far beyond a homeowner’s legal right to defend himself and his property. But now that Smith is free on bail, some wonder if a town divided by the deaths can withhold judgment until facts play out in court.

“What he did was wrong, and I don’t think he should have got out,” said Little Falls resident Amber Piekarski. “Them kids are gone, and he’s free until he goes to court next. That’s not right.”

Resident Rick Gall added: “There is a lot of family involved…there’s going to be hatred either way.”

Smith’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, didn’t want to say how the $50,000 was raised. He called that a private matter to which Smith is legally entitled.


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