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Day Five of Byron Smith Murder Trial Delayed Due to Witness Availability

Steven Meshbesher
Steven Meshbesher

LITTLE FALLS — Defense lawyers for Byron Smith resumed their witness interrogation this morning, but it quickly came to a halt because of witness availability issues. That witness availability sent a packed courtroom to a three-hour recess.

The 65-year-old Smith is charged with two counts of first degree premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady.  The teens were shot and killed after breaking into Smith’s home on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

Defense lawyer Steven Meshbesher wrapped up his questioning of Morrison County Sheriff’s deputy Jamie Luberts this morning.  Luberts’ testimony was continued from Thursday when Judge Douglas Anderson adjourned for the day.  Meshbesher questioned Luberts about an October 27th, 2012 burglary Smith had reported to authorities.  Luberts was the responding officer to that burglary where Smith reported two guns had been stolen.

Two days later, Smith submitted a list of other stolen items including a camera lens and camera worth thousands of dollars, gold coins, cash, gold ring and a rifle scope.

Luberts testified he didn’t develop any suspects in the case or check any pawn shops for the stolen merchandise. Meshbesher is trying to show jurors that Smith had become frustrated with a lack of follow-up on his burglary complaints.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel testified that on November 29th, 2012 he learned where Smith’s stolen shotgun may be located.  Wetzel met with someone who brought Sheriff Wetzel to the gun’s location in Belle View Township less than a mile from Smith’s home.  The gun was found at the end of a wooded trail in a swampy area, partially covered by grass and snow.

During this morning’s recess, Meshbesher linked the person who knew of the gun’s location to Kifer and Brady.

Meanwhile, Meshbesher wouldn’t say whether he plans to call Smith to the stand.  It’s also unclear who will be called as the next witness.

The court had hoped to wrap up the trial by the end of this week, but it’s likely to carry over into Monday.

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