Prosecutor: Minn. Homeowner Lay In Wait For Teen Burglars

Source: CBS News

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. – A Minnesota man on trial for killing two teenagersafter they broke into his house planned the killings, and was lying in wait in his basement with a book, some snacks and two guns, prosecutors said Monday. But a defense attorney countered that his client was terrified after several increasingly violent break-ins and hid after hearing a window break and footsteps upstairs.

Byron Smith, 65, of Little Falls, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the slayings of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. The killings rocked the small central Minnesota city of about 8,000 and stirred debate about how far a person can go in defending their home.

Smith has claimed self-defense, saying he feared the teens were armed and that he was on edge after earlier repeated break-ins at his home. Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one’s home or dwelling, but authorities have said Smith crossed a line when he continued to shoot the teens after they were no longer a threat.

Prosecutors played for jurors Smith’s taped interview with police after the shootings. In it, Smith told police he was living in fear after the break-ins and had taken to wearing a gun on his hip. But he also said: “Whoever it was who was breaking into my home had been doing it so long that I was no longer willing to live in fear.”

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