MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The trial is getting underway this week for a Little Falls man who said he killed two teenagers in self-defense.
When Byron Smith – who is free on bond – walked into court, he didn’t have much to say.
“My lawyer says there’s an order. I can’t talk,” he said.
It was Thanksgiving Day 2012 when Smith said he shot Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, several times after they broke into his home. Jury selection begins Monday, and the trial is expected to stir up emotion in the rural central Minnesota community of about 8,000 people.
Authorities said the 65-year-old Smith shot Brady multiple times after the boy entered his home. He then dragged the teen’s body into his basement. Then Smith waited as the other teen, Kifer, came down the steps and he then fired again repeatedly.
Court documents reveal Smith said he waited for a day before asking a neighbor to call police. The teens were unarmed. He’s facing two counts of premeditated first-degree murder.
Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one’s home, but authorities said Smith crossed a line when he continued to shoot the teens after they were no longer a threat. Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel has said he feels once the facts are out in the case, more people will think believe Smith acted unlawfully.
“He had a right to do what he sadly did,” Smith’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, said. “It was not something he wanted.”
Meshbesher asked question after question to potential jurors about religion and thoughts on gun control.
The prosecutor, who because of an unnamed conflict of interest came in from Washington County, was less about the details.
“I have a lot of faith in the people of community, so I don’t have a lot of questions to ask,” attorney Pete Orput said.
Orput feels strongly that what happened to a young woman and her cousin was brutal and he thinks others will agree.
“I’d try this case in front of 12 NRA board members,” Orput said.
Brady and Kifer were cousins and well known in the community for their involvement in sports. Authorities have said a car linked to Brady and Kifer had prescription drugs inside that had been stolen from another home.
And court documents from another case show Brady had burglarized Smith’s property at least twice in the months before he was shot.
Part of the jury was selected Monday and at least one of them is a member of the NRA.