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Byron Smith Update: Minn. shooting suspect says he "fired more shots than needed" in teens' slayings, complaint says

This Nov. 23, 2012, photograph provided by the Morrison county sheriff's office showsByron David Smith. The Morrison County man has been arrested after he told police he shot and killed two teenagers who were allegedly breaking into his home on Thanksgiving Day. Morrison County Sheriff's Office

Byron Smith
Morrison County Sheriff's Office

(CBS/AP) LITTLE FALLS, Minn. - The Minnesota man charged with the Thanksgiving Day shooting deaths of two teenage cousins he claims broke into his home said he got angry and fired more shots than necessary when one of the wounded teens laughed at him.

PICTURES: Two Minn. cousins fatally shot on Thanksgiving Day

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

Smith appeared at Morrison County District Court on Monday morning where his bail was set at $2 million. He was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and her 17-year-old cousin, Nicholas Brady Schaeffel. The teens were shot on Thanksgiving Day, but their deaths weren't reported until their bodies were found in Smith's basement on Friday.

According to the complaint, Smith said he was in the basement of his Little Falls home when he heard a window breaking upstairs, followed by footsteps that eventually approached the basement stairwell. Supposedly fearful after several previous break-ins, 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 before sitting back down on his chair. He said he shot Kifer a few minutes later as soon as her hips appeared as she came down the stairs.

Smith said Kifer laughed at him when his Mini 14 rifle jammed while he tried to shoot her again. He then allegedly shot Kifer in the chest several times with a .22-caliber revolver, and dragged her next to Schaeffel, allegedly firing yet another shot under chin when she was still gasping for air.

"Smith described it as `a good clean finishing shot,"' according to the complaint, but he also acknowledged that he fired "more shots than (he) needed to." He asked a neighbor the following day 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 during Smith's first court appearance.

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 eliminated any threat to his safety by wounding the cousins.

Smith's brother, Bruce Smith, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune 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. 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.

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

More on Crimesider
Nov. 26, 2012 - Byron Smith, Minn. man, arrested for murder of two teens on Thanksgiving day, police say

  • Crimesider Staff

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