BYRON SMITH TRIAL: 'I refuse to live in fear' - KMSP-TV

BYRON SMITH TRIAL: 'I refuse to live in fear'

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Byron Smith’s home in Little Falls, Minn. was peppered with audio and video surveillance equipment, and the recordings from those devices are delivering more fireworks in the retired State Department security engineer’s murder trial.


Smith, 65, is standing trial on charges of first-degree murder in the 2012 Thanksgiving Day shooting deaths of 17-year-old Nick Brady 18-year-old Haile Kifer at his home in Little Falls, Minn.

Smith shot and killed Brady and Kifer after they broke into his house. Surveillance video played in court Wednesday shows the teenagers casing the house prior to the burglary.

Smith told police that repeated break-ins at his property led him to install audio and video recording device, and to keep a gun holstered.


Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent William Bennett said he found an audio recorder that had been turned on and left running on a bookshelf in Smith’s home. Prosecutors, accusing Smith of premeditated murder, said he sat near the recorder in his basement and waited for the teen burglars to come his way.

“I noticed there were batteries in it, almost as if someone turned it on and let it go until it was dead,” Bennett testified.

Bennett's sweep of the house also turned up a DVR connected to four video cameras that were left running. Smith also kept a cell phone signal jammer upstairs, in the kitchen.

Rough sketch of the basement layout inside Byron Smith's home


Smith was practically inconsolable at his seat in the courtroom Wednesday, after listening to a 30-minute audio recording, on which he said, “I refuse to live in fear.”

Before and after the shootings, Smith seemed to be talking to himself about "cleaning up a mess."

"I felt like I was cleaning up a mess,” he said on the recording. “Worse than spilled food, worse than vomit, worse than s---."

Prior to the shootings, Smith is heard on the recording talking about lining up an appointment with a lawyer.


In the audio recording played Wednesday, Smith said he "left house at 11:30…both dead by 1." Statements made in court indicate Smith moved his pickup truck in between those times.

DAY 2: Chilling audio of Little Falls shootings

In court Tuesday, the jury listened to audio recordings from the shootings. Smith could be heard telling Brady, "you're dead," and telling Kifer, "sorry about that," when his rifle jams, then firing a "good, clean finishing shot." 


Smith’s defense attorneys asked the judge for a mistrial Wednesday morning, arguing they did not have access to ballistic report notes used in the testimony of a forensic scientist.

The mistrial request was quickly denied by Morrison County Judge Douglas Anderson, but he allowed Smith’s team to take a break to examine the scientist's notes.

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