Man accused of killing Little Falls teens to challenge evidence

8:56 PM, Aug 30, 2013   |    comments
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LITTLE FALLS, Minn. - The man accused of killing two teenagers who broke into his Little Falls-area home on Thanksgiving Day is due in Morrison County District Court Friday for hearing at which he will challenge evidence against him.

Byron David Smith, 65, faces two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of cousins Nicholas Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18. The hearing Friday is expected to last the balance of the day.

Smith has been free since posting $50,000 conditional bail after he was initially charged with second-degree murder. A grand jury later indicted him on first-degree murder charges.

Smith is accused of killing Kifer and Brady after the two broke into his house north of Little Falls. Smith shot the teens multiple times and left their bodies in the house for a day before authorities were notified, according to a court complaint charging him.

Smith told investigators that he was acting in self-defense when he shot the teenagers, a claim that prosecutors and investigators are challenging. The shooting sparked debate about how much force homeowners can use when protecting their property against an intruder.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said immediately after the shootings that Smith exceeded that amount of force when he shot the teens after previous gunshots had rendered them incapable of being an ongoing threat.

Court records accuse Smith of shooting Kifer and Brady several minutes apart after the teens broke into his house. He told authorities that his home had been previously broken into.

Surveillance equipment captured video of the break-in, and a digital audio recorder caught audio of the shootings, according to court records.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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