LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -- A 64-year-old man was charged Monday with murdering two teenagers who broke into his home on the outskirts of Little Falls, Minn., shooting each of them at close range in the head after having already wounded them.
Byron David Smith was charged in Morrison County District Court with two counts of second-degree murder without premeditation in the killings of Nicholas Brady, 17, and his cousin Haile Kifer, 18.
The criminal complaint says that Smith shot the two as they came down his basement stairs several minutes apart on Thanksgiving Day. The complaint adds that he shot them numerous times.
He then waited a day before asking a neighbor to alert authorities, the document added.
Smith appeared for a 10-minute court hearing late Monday morning. Bail was set at $2 million, with the prosecution noting the defendant's extensive travels while he was working for the U.S. State Department.
Sheriff Michel Wetzel told reporters afternoon that Smith explained to authorities that he didn't call immediately after killing the two because "it was Thanksgiving. He didn't want to trouble us on a holiday."
As for whether Smith could be justified in shooting intruders, Wetzel said that a citizen does have to right to protect person or property, but it has to be reasonable.
According to information Smith gave to investigators, he was in his basement when he heard the teens break into his home. He shot Brady as he came down the stairs. When the teen came to rest at the bottom of the stairs, Smith shot him in the face.
A few minutes later, Kifer started down into the basement. Smith shot her as soon as he saw her hips, he said. When he tried to shoot her again, his gun jammed, at which point she laughed. He pulled out a revolver and shot her "more times than I needed to" in the chest, he said. He then put his gun under her chin, shooting her once in the head in what he described as a "good, clean finishing shot."