Minn. man says he 'fired more shots than I needed'

2012-11-26T19:00:00Z Minn. man says he 'fired more shots than I needed'The Associated Press The Associated Press
November 26, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota homeowner who shot two unarmed teenagers in the midst of an apparent Thanksgiving Day break-in told authorities he feared they had a weapon, but acknowledged firing "more shots than I needed to" and appeared to take pride in "a good clean finishing shot" for one teen, according to investigators.

Byron David Smith, 64, was charged Monday with two counts of second-degree murder in a criminal complaint that was chilling for the clinical way investigators said he described the shootings.

Smith told investigators he shot 18-year-old Haile Kifer several times as she descended a stairway into his basement, and his Mini 14 rifle jammed as he tried to shoot her again after she had tumbled down the steps.

Though Kifer was "already hurting," she let out a short laugh, Smith told investigators. He then pulled out his .22-caliber revolver and shot her several times in the chest, according to the complaint.

"If you're trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again," Smith told investigators, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

Smith was also charged in the death of Kifer's cousin, 17-year-old Nicholas Brady.

Minnesota law allows a homeowner to use deadly force on an intruder if a reasonable person would fear they're in danger of harm, and Smith told investigators he was afraid the intruders might have a weapon. However, Smith's actions weren't justified, Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said.

"The law doesn't permit you to execute somebody once a threat is gone," he said.

Smith told investigators he was fearful after several break-ins at his remote home about 10 miles south of Little Falls, a central Minnesota town of 8,000 people. The sheriff's office had only one report of a break-in, on Oct. 27. Smith reported losing thousands of dollars in cash, gold coins, two guns, photo equipment and jewelry.

Wetzel said that while the shootings happened on Thursday, Smith waited until Friday to report the deaths, explaining that "he didn't want to trouble us on a holiday."

In the complaint, Smith said he was in his basement when he heard a window breaking upstairs, followed by footsteps that eventually approached the basement stairwell. Smith said he fired when Brady came into view from the waist down.

After the teen fell down the stairs, Smith said he shot him in the face as he lay on the floor.

"I want him dead," the complaint quoted Smith telling an investigator.

Smith said he dragged Brady's body into his basement workshop, then sat down on his chair. After a few minutes, Kifer began coming down the stairs and he shot her as soon as her hips appeared, he said.

After shooting her with both the Mini 14 and the .22-caliber revolver, he dragged her next to Brady. With her still gasping for air, he fired a shot under her chin "up into the cranium," the complaint says.

"Smith described it as 'a good clean finishing shot,'" according to the complaint.

The next day he asked a neighbor to recommend a good lawyer, according to the complaint. He later asked his neighbor to call the police.

A prosecutor called Smith's reaction "appalling."

"Mr. Smith intentionally killed two teenagers in his home in a manner that goes well beyond self-defense," Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf said after Smith appeared in court Monday morning. Bail was set at $2 million.

Defense attorney Gregory Larson declined comment.

John Lange, who described himself as Smith's best friend, said Smith shouldn't be in jail.

"You have a right to defend your home," Lange said. "He's been through hell."

But Liberty Nunn, a Little Falls resident who said she knew Nicholas Brady's older sister, said Smith could have simply shouted at them to stop. She said she hopes Smith goes to prison "for a very, very long time."

"Those are two young lives that were taken," she said. "It's just not right."

Minnesota sentencing guidelines call for a range of roughly 21 to 30 years in prison for a person convicted of a single second-degree murder count.

Smith's brother, Bruce Smith, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune his brother had retired after a career as a security officer with the U.S. State Department.

Bruce Smith declined to talk to an Associated Press reporter Monday outside his brother's home. A makeshift barricade blocked the driveway and a board leaning against it bore the spray-painted words "Keep Out."

Brady's sister, Crystal Schaeffel, told the Star Tribune that Kifer had stolen prescription drugs from her home before. Little Falls police records show Crystal Schaeffel reported a theft Aug. 28, but the department said the report was not public because that investigation was continuing and because it named juveniles.

Schools in Little Falls, about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis, made counselors available, though classes weren't in session Monday. In nearby Pillager, where classes were in session, a few students sought help from school counselors and local clergy members available at the school Monday morning, said Superintendent Chuck Arns.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. aaronjames222000
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    aaronjames222000 - December 03, 2012 7:16 pm
    I had a break in happen once with my garage and a baseball bat and a 105 lb german shepherd nuetralized the person till the cops came i don't believe in firearms . These kids kept going thru this guys house when he did fire i think how he handled it was dumb but I think what he did as a whole was justice served. I think killing em neutralized the threat but waiting a day to call authorities just weird to me. He could have buried them and told no one so it wasn't like he was hiding something
  2. aaronjames222000
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    aaronjames222000 - December 03, 2012 7:08 pm
    Exactly your home is your castle he could use imminent force if he felt he was in danger he stated that I think the guy should be given a medal plus he worked for the state department but because they are minors or young they are looked different upon as an older person that breaks in a criminal is a criminal no matter what the age you dont know if they had guns or a knife two against one I think this guy sent a message that this stuff shouldn't be happening. Thats why I say get a big dog cause if a dog doesnt stop an intruder one sound of a gun going off should then if they keep going then you use force. This guy is also a senior citizen don't think jail time solves anything none the less prison time I could only see that if that guy has prior on his record im pretty sure working for the state department he was clean.
  3. SEA
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    SEA - November 28, 2012 1:26 pm
    0 point for the two thugs, 0 point for the homeowner for crossing the line in home defense. We all need to understand that once a threat is neutralized, stop immediately and call 9-1-1!
  4. Faust
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    Faust - November 28, 2012 12:26 pm
    This guy deserves no less than a full conviction. He could have given a verbal warning or fired a warning shot. It seems as though he ambushed them, especially the second kid after already killing the first one. I'm all for self defense and own many guns myself, but this isn't far from 'A Texas Chainsaw Massacre'.
  5. ChopChop
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    ChopChop - November 26, 2012 10:37 pm
    Just another story of "Minnesota Nice"!
  6. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - November 26, 2012 9:32 pm
    The above in no way condones this man's later actions.. we can't have people playing executioner, we can't have people going on a 'power trip.'

    Your gun is what you go to as a last resort. Nothing more is allowed.

    In the Gravest Extreme: The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection - Ayoob


    “A basic principle of American justice holds that a bad man has the same rights as a good man.”

    “Those of us who have seen violent death up close, who have seen what high-powered bullets can do to living human tissue, have a horror of inflicting that nightmarish, never forgotten damage on a fellow human being. Perhaps the only more terrifying prospect is that such a fate should befall us or our loved ones. This is why we, a representative cross-section of America's population, keep deadly weapons for personal defense.”
  7. citygirl
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    citygirl - November 26, 2012 9:27 pm
    You assume burglurs are armed with guns, he's alone, could of been ten more outside. I don't condone the shooting but I understand how the buildup of rage and fear overtook his common sense.
  8. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - November 26, 2012 9:22 pm
    The law rightly only permits you to use deadly force as a last resort, to save yourself from death or serious bodily harm. Or to save your loved ones or neighbors. This guy went beyond what the law allows: he went on a 'power trip' and became an executioner.

    Knife fighting lies

    Lie #1You're going to have time to draw your own weapon | Lie #2 It's going to be a knife "fight" | Lie #3 But what if I'm cornered?" | Lie #4 He's going to attack you a specific way | Lie# 5 And then he is going to passively stand there while you carve him | Lie #6 Trapping and stripping | Lie #7 Bio-mechanical cutting | Lie #8 Knowing how to stickfight means you know how to knife fight | Lie #9 Knowing kali makes you a knife fighter | Lie #10 Grappling with a knife | Lie #11 The knife is an extension of your hand | Lie #12 There is such a thing as a "master knife fighter" | Lie #13 That this is a "fight" at all | Lie #14 Expect to get cut..

  9. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - November 26, 2012 9:14 pm
    A home invasion is a very jarring event for the homeowner: it's unrealistic to expect him to react with perfect compliance with the law. He's scared, he's threatened, he's going to shoot at anything that moves... his adrenalin levels are off the charts. So the onus should be on the criminal to not put the home invasion victim in that position, even if the criminal is a teen. Scare the $!&@ out of someone and they're gonna react. And not always in a way we'd like, as here.

    If you're in such a situation, having just shot a home invader, call 911 right away. Say only "I've just been attacked, here's where they broke in, here's where they hit me with a baseball bat," then shut your mouth once you've pointed out the evidence. Talk only through your attorney. Resist the urge to spew your guts to the cops: after an incident, they now work for the prosecutor, not for you. Lawyer up, no matter what the cops tell you, or threaten you with. Let your lawyer be your mouthpiece from then on.
  10. RINO Cowboy
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    RINO Cowboy - November 26, 2012 9:06 pm
    Yeah, killing ( ok let's call it by its real name, execuciting) teens is such a thrill, right? This guy dragged the girl over to the other kid and - while she was resisting as evidenced by still breathing - fired a round into her chin into her brain ... Of course after shooting her multiple times in the chest. Didn't want to bother the cops so he waited a day to report it?? I hope he enjoys prison and has plenty of time to think about what he has done. A simple call to the police reporting a brake in and robbery would have sufficed.
  11. David Lee
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    David Lee - November 26, 2012 8:44 pm
    "a good clean finishing shot" So the kid was wounded and he finished him off? That is murder and I hope the miserable slime spends the rest of his life in prison, and I wish him a long long life. I understand self defense, this was an execution.
  12. Boss
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    Boss - November 26, 2012 8:20 pm
    Two less criminals running the streets, give the guy a medal. Lock up the spoiled brats parents for raising thieves.We need to clean the world of this riff-raff.
  13. Seriously Now
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    Seriously Now - November 26, 2012 7:46 pm
    While I consider getting shot an occupational risk that a thief takes, this guy has a a few parts loose in this head.
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