Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Prosecutor on Little Falls shooting: Smith told Kifer 'you're dying'

  • Court documents show Smith had a surveillance system that recorded video of the cousins as they broke into his home and that Smith also made an audio recording of the shootings.
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  • A central Minnesota homeowner accused of fatally shooting two cousins who broke into his home on Thanksgiving told one of the teenagers "you're dying" after she was shot, a prosecutor said Monday.
    Assistant Morrison County Attorney Todd Kosovich recounted details of an audio recording of the killing of the two teens in urging a judge to set higher bail for Byron David Smith, 64, of rural Little Falls.
    But Judge Douglas Anderson instead cut Smith's bail in half. Smith was in jail Monday evening in the process of posting either $50,000 cash or a $500,000 bond with conditions. Bail was originally set at $2 million without conditions, or $1 million with conditions.
    Kosovich told the judge that Smith's bail should be doubled, perhaps tripled, and not lowered, the Star Tribune reported. The prosecutor said the killings were an "ambush" set up when Smith sat by a tall bookcase so that he could not be seen sitting near the stairs leading to his basement and that he had removed light bulbs from sockets.
    Smith is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18.
    Smith's attorney, Steve Meshbesher, said Smith wants to stay in Little Falls and defend his case.
    "He's not going anywhere," Meshbesher said. "All I'm asking for is reasonable bail and what it is set at right now is not reasonable."
    Court documents show Smith had a surveillance system that recorded video of the cousins as they broke into his home and that Smith also made an audio recording of the shootings.
    Kosovich told the judge that on the audio recording, there's the sound of breaking glass, presumably from when Brady broke a window, then crawled in. A first shot is heard two minutes later, followed by three shots. Within 18 seconds of the last shot, Brady's body can be heard being dragged away on a tarp from the foot of the stairs toward a workshop.
    Ten minutes after that last shot, Kifer's voice is heard on the tape saying, "Nick?" Then there's a shot and the sound of her body tumbling down the stairs, followed by a click as Smith's rifle jammed, Kosovich said.
    "Oh, sorry about that," Smith is heard saying on the tape, the prosecutor said.
    After three more shots, Kosovich said, Smith told Kifer: "You're dying."
    A fifth shot resounded, the prosecutor said, and Smith turned to Kifer on the basement floor and called her a derogatory name.
    The final shot was beneath Kifer's chin into her cranium. One of the shots must have missed, authorities say, because an autopsy found five bullet wounds.
    Kosovich also said Smith shot Kifer a total of three times in the head, the St. Cloud Times reported.
    Page 2 of 2 - "There's no way that's self-defense, your honor," Kosovich said.
    Smith remained quiet throughout the hearing, speaking only to his attorney, the Brainerd Dispatch reported. Smith's brother surrendered his sibling's passport to court administrators, which is one of the bail conditions.
    Smith retired six years ago from his position as a security engineer for the U.S. Department of State. He told investigators his home had been broken into several times before.
    After the hearing, Brady's grandparents, Nick and Bonnie Schaeffel, said the bail should not have been lowered.
    "That is not who you want to see walking down the street," Bonnie Schaeffel told the Star Tribune.
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