3 jurors selected for murder trial of Little Falls homeowner - KMSP-TV

NRA member selected for murder trial of Little Falls homeowner

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LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (KMSP) -

Jury selection began Monday in the high-profile murder trial of Byron Smith, the Little Falls homeowner who is facing first-degree murder charges after he admitted fatally shooting two teens who broke in.

The shooting that took place on Thanksgiving Day in 2012 has attracted national attention and sparked debate over whether the 66-year-old went too far when he shot 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Hallie Kifer several times as they came down the stairs into his basement.

THE CASE: What you need to know

On Monday, the jury selection process began in Morrison County, where a pool of 130 prospective jurors were tasked with completing a 57-item questionnaire that ranged from inquests on gun ownership and use to queries about how much potential jurors already know about the case.

Many of the questions prospective jurors were asked to answer pertained to guns, including:

- Do you or a family member own a gun?
- Have you or a family member ever been shot at or shot a person?

One of the three jurors selected Monday admitted to being an NRA member who wouldn't hesitate to shoot someone who broke into his home, a move Washington County Attorney Pete Orput -- lead prosecutor on the case -- didn't block.

"I would try this case in front of 12 NRA board members," he said.

It's been 17 months since the shooting, and Smith remains free on bail while he faces trial.

"This is about peoples' rights, and a person who has the right to live in a free society and be in their home safely," Smith's defense attorney, Steve Meshbesher, told Fox 9 News.

When asked whether he believes the teens who entered Smith's home took that right away from his client, Meshbesher said, "No question about it."

Yet, the charges against the former security engineer for the State Department contain details of a one-day delay in reporting the shooting and admissions Smith made to investigators, including that he used more shots than he needed to and got a "good, clean finishing shot" by shooting Kifer in the head as she gasped for air.

"When you're scared to death, you don't always do what it says technically to do and how to do it," Meshbesher contends. "You are just trying to survive."

The focus of the trial is expected to center on the right to protect yourself in your home and whether Smith crossed the line from protection to murder. The jury selection process is expected to conclude by the end of the week. Once 14 jurors, including two alternates, are selected, the trial itself will begin.

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