Updated: 08/27/2014 7:30 AM
Created: 08/26/2014 2:16 PM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson
A Minnesota man convicted of murdering two unarmed teenagers who broke into his home is contesting the restitution prosecutors are asking he pay for the deaths.
Sixty-six-year-old Byron Smith took the stand Tuesday to testify about what had been stolen in a series of burglaries at his Little Falls home before the Thanksgiving Day 2012 shootings.
A Morrison County jury found Smith guilty in April of killing 17-year-old Nick Brady and his 18-year-old cousin, Haile Kifer.
Smith is arguing that because Brady stole items from his house in previous burglaries, he shouldn't have to pay restitution to Brady's family. He's also contesting the $21,859 he was ordered to pay Kifer's family.
The families want Smith to cover funeral expenses. Both families say they are in debt to the tune of more than $20,000 each.
"We believe the court can offset that money by what Nick Brady already stole from his house," Smith’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, said.
Smith cried as he described his family building the house that was burglarized.
"To say he's stressed is ... that's putting it nicely," Meshbesher said.
The parents of Kifer and Brady defended their reasons for restitution during questioning from Smith's attorney. Nick's best friend, Cody Kasper, was also questioned.
Kasper is significant because he said he was a lookout for Brady during three burglaries of Smith's house. He also admitted in court Tuesday that copper wire, guns, a camera, money and a chainsaw were some of the items taken.
"Cody Kasper gave four statements to the police, and he pled guilty and he's on probation," Meshbesher said.
Meshbesher said with all of the items, plus a bundle of cash taken by Brady, Smith should not have to pay for the funeral expenses.
"He can't double dip. You can't profit by being a burglar. He's turning it into a profitable business," Meshbesher said.
Meshbesher finished his questioning and asked for a continuance to get a copy of Tuesday's transcript to prove Brady's parents lied in court. The judge gave him a continuance of 30 days.
The family of Kifer and Brady were not available for comment after the hearing.