Grand jury indicts Smith

LITTLE FALLS — A Morrison County grand jury indicted a Little Falls man on two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the Thanksgiving Day shooting deaths of two teenagers, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput announced Thursday.

Orput and his First Assistant County Attorney Brent D. Wartner are handling the Smith case as special assistant Morrison County Attorneys because the Morrison County Attorney’s Office had a conflict of interest in the case.

Orput said the grand jury handed down the sealed indictment against 64-year-old Byron D. Smith Wednesday in the deaths of Haille Elaine Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17. Smith allegedly shot the two teenagers after he caught the pair breaking into his home. Each count carries possible sentence of life in prison without parole.

Smith made an initial court appearance on the indictment Thursday before Morrison County District Judge Doug Anderson. Orput requested $2 million bail for Smith due to the nature of the offense and possible penalties. Anderson kept Smith’s bail at $500,000 with conditions, Orput added.

An omnibus hearing in the case is 10 a.m. July 1, according to Orput.

Smith’s attorney, Steven J. Meshbesher, said in a brief statement that the grand jury heard “some of the evidence” in the case and his client looks forward to a jury hearing all evidence in the case.

Orput thanked the grand jury for its “very considered decision.”
“We look forward to proving this case before a Morrison County jury and bringing justice to these two high school students whose lives were so violently and prematurely ended.”