MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Supreme Court heard Thursday the appeal of a Little Falls man convicted of killing two teenagers who broke into his home.
Byron Smith shot and killed 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. A jury found him guilty in 2014. Byron Smith is currently serving life in prison.
His defense attorney made arguments before the Supreme Court in hopes of getting his client’s conviction overturned or a new trial.
Smith’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, says he did not get a fair trial. Smith shot the teenagers multiple times in his basement after they had broken into his home.
Meshbesher argued the judge excluded evidence and witness testimony at trial that showed one of the victims had broken into Smith’s house and garage months before the actual shooting. Meshbesher also argued the judge in the case closed the courtroom during a portion of trial to discuss those witnesses in the case.
He said, and the justices seemed to agree, that violated smith’s public trial right.
“The judge with all due respect on his own when we were about to begin opening statements closed the courtroom. I, as politely as I could, told him you can’t do that,” Meshbesher said.
“Based upon the substance of the hearing upon those four pages this was a bench conference. And bench conferences are not subject to rule 2603 of our rules of procedure,” State Attorney Brent D. Wartner said.
A decision will not be made Thursday and the court doesn’t have a specific deadline. It could take the Minnesota Supreme Court more than four months to make a ruling after the arguments are heard.