Updated: 01/23/2014 1:09 PM
Created: 01/23/2014 12:56 PM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson
A Little Falls man accused of fatally shooting two teens who broke into his house entered “not guilty” pleas on both counts of first-degree murder in Morrison County on Thursday.
Sixty-five-year-old Byron Smith is accused of killing 17-year-old Nicholas Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer after they broke into his house north of Little Falls on Thanksgiving Day 2012. Prosecutors say Smith shot the teens multiple times and left their bodies in his Little Falls house for a day before authorities were notified.
One of Smith's attorneys, Adam Johnson, said Smith was acting in self-defense and was defending his dwelling. Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one's home or dwelling.
Defense attorneys have said that Smith's property had been burglarized before and that he was scared. Court documents show Brady was involved in at least two of the prior burglaries at Smith's property.
Brady and Kifer, who were cousins, also have been linked to another burglary that happened the day before they were killed. In that case, six bottles of prescription drugs were stolen and found in a car linked to them.
Smith’s next pretrial hearing is set for March 25, and a jury trial has been set for April 14.