Minnesota Man Who Killed Two Teens during Burglary Gets Life in Prison

Byron Smith, 65, of Little Falls, Minn., leaves the Morrison County Courthouse April 29, 2014, after closing arguments in his trial. (Photo: Dave Schwarz, St. Cloud (Minn.) Times)
Byron Smith, 65, of Little Falls, Minn., leaves the Morrison County Courthouse April 29, 2014, after closing arguments in his trial.
(Photo: Dave Schwarz, St. Cloud (Minn.) Times)

Minnesota homeowner who killed two teens during a break-in was convicted Tuesday of premeditated murder and will spend his life in prison without parole.

Bryon Smith, 65, had claimed he was defending himself during the break-in at his home in this city of about 8,000 on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

Minnesota law allows a person to use deadly force for defense, but that action must be considered reasonable.

During closing arguments, the six-man, six-woman jury heard two portrayals of Smith — one a man who feared for his life because of previous burglaries and another of a man who baiting the teenagers in what a prosecutor likened to deer hunting.

Smith, 65, was convicted of two counts each of first- and second-degree murder in the deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17. The cousins were killed Nov. 22, 2012, after Smith fired a total of nine shots from two different weapons when Brady broke into his house on the Mississippi River about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis and Kifer followed about 11 minutes later.

Prosecutor Peter Orput called it a “very serious but a very simple case.”

Who killed the teenagers, where and when isn’t in doubt, he said. He focused instead on premeditation when talking to the jury. He pointed out that Smith had moved his pickup truck away from his house that day to make it look like nobody was home.

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Source: USA Today | David Unze, St. Cloud (Minn.) Times