Byron Smith had been lying in wait for the two teenagers he killed in his home on Thanksgiving Day in 2012, a prosecutor said Monday during his opening statement in a Minnesota court room.
Smith is accused of first-degree premeditated murder in the deaths of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer.
Assistant Washington County Attorney Brent Wartner told jurors that Smith, 65, of Little Falls, Minn., went to great lengths in preparing to use deadly force in case the teens broke into his home.
"He's down in the basement, in a chair, tucked between two bookcases at the bottom of the stairs. He said he was down there reading a book ... with his Mini-14, a .22-caliber revolver, some energy bars and a bottle of water," Wartner said according to a recent Associated Press story.
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Once set up Smith simply waited for the teens to come.
After breaking a bedroom window Brady and Kifer entered Smith’s home. Brady was the first to descend the stairs. As he came into view Smith shot him in the chest, then in the back. When Brady fell to the bottom of the staircase Smith fired a final shot into Brady’s head. He then pulled the body into a nearby workshop and continued to wait for Kifer.
He shot her once as she came towards him. Smith tried to fire a second time but his rifle jammed. Kifer stumbled down the stairs and let out a short laugh. Smith told police after the incident that the laugh “made him upset.”
“If you are trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again,” he told the police according to ABC News.
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Smith shot her twice in the head with his revolver.
As Smith dragged her to the workshop he believed he heard her gasp for air so he fired what he described to police as a “good clean finishing shot” that went “under her chin and up into her cranium.”
Neither teen was armed. Smith’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, told jurors Monday that Smith had been burglarized before and he was fearful it would happen again according to the Star Tribune.
Court documents show that Brady had burglarized Smith’s home at least twice in the months leading to the shootings.
Police were troubled by the killings and the event sparked debate over how far a person could go to defend his or her home.
"The law doesn't permit you to execute someone once the threat is gone,” Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel told local news station KMSP. "When it becomes clear there's no threat to you, and a felony can't be committed in your home, you no longer have the right to shoot someone.”