Grand jury increases charges against Little Falls man accused of murder

8:15 PM, Apr 25, 2013   |    comments
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LITTLE FALLS, Minn. - The man accused of shooting and killing two teens who allegedly broke into his home has been indicted on two counts of 1st degree premeditated murder.

Byron Smith, 64, was in court for an initial appearance Thursday, one day after a Morrison County Grand Jury handed down the indictment.

Smith is accused of killing 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haille Kifer on Thanksgiving Day of 2012.

In court Thursday, the prosecution asked Morrison County Judge Doug Anderson to increase bail to $2 million. Smith has been free on bail since posting $50,000 bail in December. Judge Anderson did not change the terms of the bail.

Two attorneys from the Washington County Attorney's Office are representing Morrison County in the case, as the Morrison County's office had a conflict of interest in the case.

It's a crime that shook the town of Little Falls. Smith admitted to prosecutors that he killed the teens, saying they broke into Smith's home with the intention of burglarizing it.

Previously filed court documents show Brady had been accused of burglarizing Smith's home twice in the months before he was shot.

A previously filed criminal complaint details the murders, as described by Smith. The complaint alleges Smith shot Brady while he walked into the basement. Brady fell to the ground. Smith allegedly then shot him several more times at point blank range.

Authorities say Smith shot Kifer in a similar fashion when she walked down stairs. An audio tape found by police in Smith's house indicated that Smith then taunted Kifer as he shot her multiple times. Smith also says he shot Kifer under the chin to "end her suffering".

Prosecutors allege Smith's actions exceeded what's allowed in state law. They also say Smith broke the law by neglecting to call police. Instead, he alerted a neighbor the following day to alert authorities.

Washington County Attorney Pete Orput released a statement Thursday saying, "We thank the Grand Jury for their hard work in giving great consideration to the evidence presented and rendering a very considered decision. We look forward to proving this case before a Morrison County jury and bringing justice to these two high school students whose lives were so violently and prematurely ended."

One of the attorneys representing Smith, Adam Johnson of Meshbesher and Associates, says his client killed the teenagers in self defense, and in defense of his home. Johnson told KARE 11 Thursday that Smith was completely justified in what he did.

Smith is scheduled to be back in court for an omnibus hearing July 1. If convicted, Smith would face a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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