The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 13, 2014

Minn. man who shot, killed teens heads to trial

Case stirred debate about how far a person can go to protect one's home


Evidence expected to be presented at trial includes video surveillance of the teens entering Smith's home, as well as an audio recording of the killings. Prosecutors have said the audio tape shows four shots were fired at Brady, and that Kifer can be heard 10 minutes later saying, "Nick?" before more shots were fired. Prosecutors have said Smith can be heard telling Kifer: "You're dying."

Assistant Morrison County Attorney Todd Kosovich has said the killings were an "ambush" and that Smith removed light bulbs from sockets and sat by a tall bookcase so the teens couldn't see him as they came downstairs.

Kifer and Brady were cousins and were well-known in the community. Both were involved in sports, and Kifer worked several part-time jobs, according to online obituaries.

But a different picture of the teens emerged after their deaths. Authorities have said a car linked to Brady and Kifer contained prescription drugs that had been stolen from another house, apparently the day before they were killed. And court documents from another case show Brady had burglarized Smith's property at least twice in the months before he was shot.

Some residents said they were anxious for the trial to start and hoped the trial would bring some answers.

"So many things just don't make sense," said Bernie Jeub, 69, of Royalton, a community near Little Falls. "There's no doubt about it — the kids shouldn't have been there. But did he have to do what he did?"

Kathy Carlson, 57, of Little Falls, said the killings made her angry.

"He should go down," she said of Smith. "They didn't have the right to go stealing, but he didn't have the right to kill them."

If convicted of first-degree murder, Smith faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release.

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