The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 18, 2012

Man accused in teen shootings released from jail

— A Minnesota man charged with killing two teenage cousins who broke into his home on Thanksgiving posted bail and walked out of jail Tuesday.

Byron David Smith, 64, of rural Little Falls, posted $50,000 cash and agreed to surrender his passport and guns to the Morrison County Sheriff's Office. His release came one day after prosecutors argued for higher bail, describing the killings as more ambush than home defense.

Smith is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the Thanksgiving Day killings of Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18.

"There's nothing further to do except go to court and defend him under the full extent of the law, which we have every intent of doing," his attorney, Steve Meshbesher, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Meshbesher told the court Smith was not a flight risk and that he wanted to stay in Little Falls and defend himself against the murder charges.

Smith told investigators his home had been burglarized several times before the Thanksgiving break-in.

Judge Douglas Anderson cut Smith's bail sharply Monday despite a plea by Assistant County Attorney Todd Kosovich to double or even triple it.

The prosecutor told the court that an audio recording Smith made of the shootings includes him telling Kifer "you're dying" after he had already wounded her, but before he fired a final shot into her head, all about 10 minutes after Smith shot Brady. His security system also made a video recording of the cousins breaking in, court documents show.

Kosovich did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

Meshbesher said Tuesday that he hasn't seen any audio or video evidence yet and declined to say if the recordings will make it harder to defend Smith.

Meshbesher also declined to say where Smith would stay. He also declined to make Smith available for an interview.

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