LITTLE FALLS, Minn. - Byron Smith has been found guilty on all four counts of murder of teens Haile Kifer and Nicholas Brady.
The jury took just three hours to come to a verdict on Wednesday afternoon.
Smith killed the two teens during a break-in on Thanksgiving 2012. Smith said he had been targeted in a series of break-ins and that he feared for his life.
The prosecution argued that Smith went too far in shooting the teens a total of nine times, and the jury agreed.
To Listen To Audio Recordings That Jury Heard: www.mncourts.gov
Family reacted to what they called a tragedy that could have been avoided.
"I think often about what he could have been," said Kimberly Brady, Nick's mother. "And I see other young men with their dads or moms and it's really, really difficult and then I have to think that I will never have that chance again."
"She was a beautiful girl," said Laurie Skipper, Haile's aunt. "It was senseless what happened and we are going to forever miss her. And there's nothing we can do to get her back. It's a tragedy, a senseless tragedy."
Those supporting Smith criticized the verdict, saying it sends the wrong message.
"This just told every drug addict in the country, they can rob all the elderly people and break into their homes and get away with it," said John Lange, Smith's friend and neighbor.
Smith's attorneys are already planning their appeal, which would be at least, in part, based on evidence they feel the jury should have considered.
"It's not a fair or just verdict, but it's the verdict the jury heard with the evidence they saw," said defense attorney Steve Meshbesher. "They didn't see all the evidence, and he is adamant about an appeal and he has every right to that appeal because there's a lot of things the jury did not see."
Meantime, the town divided by the Mississippi River looks forward to the day they're not also divided by this case.
"Oh yes, every other day I run into somebody who's got an opinion," said Fred Eidenschink at the Royal Restaurant in Little Falls.
"I'm just grateful it's done," chimed in Dean Guck, who added, "Justice was served and now we can finally move on and be our small town again."
Smith faced charges of both first and second-degree murder in the death of both teens. The charges carry a mandatory life sentence.
The jury took only three hours to come to a verdict on Wednesday afternoon. KARE