- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear the appeal of Byron Smith on Sept. 3, according to the state court information office.

Smith, 67, was convicted by a Morrison County jury of two counts each of first- and second-degree murder for shooting Haile Kifer and Nick Brady after the teenagers broke in to Smith’s house on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

The case gained national and worldwide attention because Smith argued that he shot the teenagers in self-defense after his house had been burglarized multiple times before the day of the shootings.

But the jurors who heard several days of testimony needed just three hours to convict Smith of killing cousins Kifer, 18, and Brady, 17.

Jurors heard two portrayals of Smith — one a man fearing for his life because of previous burglaries who rightfully defended himself in his house, another of a man who is accused of baiting the teenagers in what a prosecutor likened to deer hunting.

Smith’s appeal argued that he was prevented by the trial judge from presenting a complete defense. He wanted to let jurors hear from Brady’s friends who would have connected Brady to previous burglaries at Smith’s house.

But Morrison County District Court Judge Douglas Anderson didn’t allow that testimony because he said there was no evidence that Smith knew that Brady was involved in the burglaries before the shootings.

Smith’s defense also was prevented from calling an expert witness who was going to testify about how high-stress situations can affect how a person sees, hears and reacts to events during a crisis.

That witness would have offered insight into whether someone in Smith’s situation can accurately comprehend what’s going on around him and how that affects their reaction.

The appeal also claims that the grand jury indictment of Smith was flawed and that prosecutors committed misconduct in closing arguments.

Smith is serving his life sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater.

Follow David Unze on Twitter @sctimesunze or contact him at 255-8740.

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