Minnesota news in brief at 7:58 p.m. CDT

Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Doctor: Slain Minnesota teens shot multiple times

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (AP) - The two Minnesota cousins killed by a man who claimed he was defending himself after they broke into his home were each shot multiple times, a medical examiner testified Thursday, and while the initial gunshots caused serious injury, they did not immediately kill the teens.

Byron Smith, of Little Falls, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the deaths of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady on Thanksgiving Day 2012. Smith, 65, claims he was defending himself and feared for his life after several break-ins at his home. But prosecutors say he sat in his basement with guns, waiting for the teens to enter his house, then went too far when he continued to shoot them after they were no longer a threat.

The killings stunned Little Falls, a central Minnesota community of 8,000, and stirred debate about how far people can go to defend their homes. Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one’s home or dwelling.

Jurors viewed autopsy photos Thursday that showed the teens’ injuries, as Smith sat still and stared at the photos projected on a screen. Dr. Kelly Mills, with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office, testified that Brady was shot three times, and Kifer had six gunshot wounds.

Mills said the final shot to Brady, which went through his right hand and into his right temple, was the “most immediately fatal.” She described it as a close-range shot, fired from between 6 inches and 3 feet away, that went through his skull and into his brain.

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Vanska returns as Minnesota Orchestra music head

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - After quitting last fall amid a protracted lockout of union musicians, Finnish conductor Osmo Vanska is returning as music director of the Grammy-winning Minnesota Orchestra, its board of directors said Thursday.

Vanska, 61, will lead at least 10 weeks of concerts for each of the next two seasons, the board said.

In a statement, Vanska said he looks forward to “getting back to music-making with the players and together re-establishing our worldwide reputation for artistic excellence.”

Board Chair Gordon Sprenger said Vanska led the orchestra to “great heights” during his decade as music director.

“We are delighted he is back,” Sprenger said in the statement.

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Lawyers release church official’s deposition

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