LITTLE FALLS, Minn. - Authorities say the two teens killed by a homeowner in an apparent break-in Thanksgiving day have been linked to a previous burglary.
Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel confirmed in a written release that a search of the red Mitsubishi Eclipse seized after the shooting of Haile Kifer and Nicholas Brady contained items reported stolen in a separate burglary that took place south of Little Falls in Little Falls Township
Kifer and Brady were both killed after reportedly breaking in to the home of 64-year-old Byron Smith near Little Falls. Smith is now charged with two counts of second degree murder after allegedly telling authorities he killed both teens with multiple shots, shooting Brady in the face after wounding him, and putting a bullet into Kifer's head after she laughed at him.
Sheriff Wetzel says deputies had contact with Nicholas Brady just before 9:30 p.m. on November 21, one day before he was fatally shot. A homeowner in Little Falls Township reported a car parked suspiciously near the end of his driveway on Hilton Road.
Brady allegedly told deputies that he and Kifer, his cousin, had been in the vehicle driving around when it ran out of gas. Brady said Kifer had left to go get more gas. Deputies then gave Brady a ride into the City of Little Falls. The car was left at its location on Hilton Road, which is close to a home on Arden Boulevard.
On November 25 the Morrison County Sheriff's Office received a report of a burglary at a home in Little Falls Township. The homeowner had been out of town for over a week and an acquaintance had discovered the break-in after checking on the home.
That homeowner reported numerous items were missing from the home including several bottles of prescription medication.
During the search of Brady's red Mitsubishi Eclipse deputies discovered six bottles of prescription medication bearing the name of the burglarized homeowner.
Sheriff Wetzel says the investigation into the fatal shooting and other burglaries that may be connected to it is ongoing.
Defense Attorney Kevin DeVore, with Larson King LLP in St. Paul, says he has tried similar defense of dwelling and self defense cases. He says prior break-ins could be relevant in Smith's defense if Smith was aware of those other burglaries, or a victim of prior break ins himself, as he claims.
"That could raise his level of fear up that could be justified in taking some extreme actions to defend himself or his home," said DeVore.
Devore said what should be closely considered is Smith's mindset when the unarmed teens entered his home, whether his actions were reasonable or if he did perceive an imminent threat.
"If they were simple break-ins and nobody has even been hurt, or no threats of violence, the jury is still going to be given that question of whether it was really necessary for him to use deadly force?" said DeVore.
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