A Morrison County Grand Jury on Thursday indicted a 64-year-old Little Falls man on two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in alleged Thanksgiving Day shooting deaths of two teenagers.
Byron D. Smith is accused of killing two cousins—Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17—who were repeatedly shot after they broke into his home on Thanksgiving Day 2012.
Each count carries a penalty of life in prison without parole.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office is handling the case for the Morrison County Attorney’s office because of a conflict of interest.
Morrison County will pay per diem for mileage, meals and rooms if necessary, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput has told Stillwater Patch.
“The attorney time is not billed,” he said, “but county attorneys routinely take conflict cases for each other and when my office gets a conflict we can send it to Morrison County to handle to make up for the time I spend on their case.”
An initial appearance on the indictment was held on Thursday before Morrison County District Judge Doug Anderson.
Orput requested that bail be set at $2 million given the nature of the offense and the possible penalties involved. Judge Anderson kept bail at $50,000 with conditions.
“We thank the Grand Jury for their hard work in giving great consideration to the evidence presented and rendering a very considered decision,” Orput said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to proving this case before a Morrison County jury and bringing justice to these two high school students whose lives were so violently and prematurely ended.”
Smith's attorney, Steven J. Meshbesher said the grand jury on April 23-24, was able to observe "some of the evidence in this case that was chosen for presentation by the prosecuting attorney."
"Mr. Smith looks forward to the time when a jury of twelve people can consider all of the evidence – from both the prosecution and the defense - in this case, Meshbesher said. "Nicholas Brady and Haile Kifer broke into Mr. Smith’s home by shattering a bedroom window with a metal pipe. Mr. Smith did not seek Brady and Kifer out. They sought him by violently breaking into his home on Thanksgiving day."
An omnibus hearing has been set for July 1 at 10 a.m.