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Minn. man says he 'fired more shots than I needed' to kill burglary suspects

David Smith has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

In a Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012 photo, Rachel Brady, sister of Nick Brady, and cousin of Haile Kifer, who were shot and killed during an alleged break in on Thanksgiving Day, speaks about her brother to a crowd who gathered for a vigil in Little Falls, Minn. Byron David Smith, 64, of Little Falls, told police he shot Kifer, 18, and Brady, 17, during a break-in Thursday. But authorities said his actions exceeded reasonable self-defense and planned to charge him Monday with second-degree murder.

In a Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012 photo, Rachel Brady, sister of Nick Brady, and cousin of Haile Kifer, who were shot and killed during an alleged break in on Thanksgiving Day, speaks about her brother to a crowd who gathered for a vigil in Little Falls, Minn. Byron David Smith, 64, of Little Falls, told police he shot Kifer, 18, and Brady, 17, during a break-in Thursday. But authorities said his actions exceeded reasonable self-defense and planned to charge him Monday with second-degree murder.

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. — A Minnesota man charged with murder in the shootings of two teenagers he said broke into his home told investigators he was angered by one of the wounded teens who mocked him when his rifle jammed but that he fired more shots than necessary.

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David Smith

"If you're trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again," Byron David Smith, 64, of Little Falls, told investigators, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

Smith was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin, Nicholas Schaeffel, 17, both of Little Falls. The teens were shot on Thanksgiving Day, but their deaths weren't reported until Friday.

In the complaint, Smith said he was in the basement of his remote home about 10 miles southwest of Little Falls when he heard a window breaking upstairs, followed by footsteps that eventually approached the basement stairwell. Fearful after several break-ins, according to the complaint, Smith said he fired when Schaeffel 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 Schaeffel's body into his basement workshop, then sat back down on his chair, and after a few minutes Kifer began coming down the stairs. He said he shot her as soon as her hips appeared, and she fell down the steps.

Smith said he tried to shoot her again with his Mini 14 rifle, but that the gun jammed and Kifer laughed at him.

"Smith stated that it was not a very long laugh because she was already hurting," according to the complaint.

Smith said he then shot Kifer in the chest several times with a .22-caliber revolver, dragged her next to Schaeffel, and with her still gasping for air, fired a shot under her chin "up into the cranium."

"Smith described it as 'a good clean finishing shot,'" according to the compliant, but also that he acknowledged he had fired "more shots than (he) needed to."

The following 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 matter that goes well beyond self-defense," Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf said after Smith appeared at Morrison County District Court on Monday morning. Bail was set at $2 million.

Defense attorney Gregory Larson declined comment.

Minnesota law allows a homeowner to use deadly force on an intruder if a reasonable person would fear they're in danger of harm. Smith told investigators he was afraid the intruders might have a weapon.

Smith's actions "sound like an execution" rather than legitimate self-defense, said David Pecchia, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. Pecchia said his statements to investigators suggest he had eliminated any threat to his safety by wounding the cousins.

Smith's brother, Bruce Smith, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that the incident was the eighth burglary at Byron Smith's home in recent years.

The only report the Morrison County sheriff's office has for a break-in at the home was for one on Oct. 27. It shows Byron Smith reported losing cash and gold coins worth $9,200, plus two guns worth $200 each, photo equipment worth over $3,000 and a ring worth $300.

Little Falls is about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Schaeffel's sister, Crystal Schaeffel, told the Star Tribune that Kifer had broken into 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.

Bruce Smith declined to talk to an Associated Press reporter Monday outside his brother's home in a secluded area north of Little Falls and near the Mississippi River. A makeshift barricade blocked the driveway and a board leaning against it bore the spray-painted words "Keep Out."

Comments

saveourcity 1 year, 10 months ago

Interesting story, but what does it have to do with Albany, GA....or SWGA for that matter?

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Jacob 1 year, 10 months ago

the world does not end at the edge of Macon and the Florida line.

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Francis 1 year, 10 months ago

If anyone breaks into my home I am going to assume they are up to no good...and I am prepared to deal with them.

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VSU 1 year, 10 months ago

Bottom line is, if those teens had not broke into that mans house they would still be alive today, but then again they might have gotten shot breaking into another persons home. One thing is for sure, that teen ain't mocking that man anymore. Not saying they deserve to die, but that is the risk you take breaking into somebody's home. You never know someone may be inside pointing a gun at you. I applaud this man.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 10 months ago

A simple matter of Work and Reward. When more people learn the reward for breaking and entering is DEATH and not easy money they will stop. Until the bleeding hearts stop supporting criminals and condemning the people trying to save what they worked for, we will have criminals looking for the path of least resistance.

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