LITTLE FALLS -- In today's installment of our Top 10 stories of 2014, we reveal the number 3 story of the year.

The Byron Smith murder trial garnered national media attention because the case against Smith would determine whether he used excessive force in defending his home or if he was protected under the castle doctrine.


Smith shot and killed two teenagers who had broken into his home, the latest in a number of burglaries at his Little Falls property.

A Morrison County jury found Smith guilty on two counts of first degree premeditated murder and two counts of second degree murder. He was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Smith was charged with killing 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady after the teens broke in on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

The law states that if the defendant acts in self defense or defense of their dwelling no crime is committed. Smith argued self defense, however the jury said an audio recording of the killings was "damning evidence" in convicting Smith. Defense attorney Steve Meshbesher says Smith made that recording because he was afraid he'd be killed in his own home and wanted to have evidence for police.

Haile Kifer and Nick Brady
Haile Kifer and Nick Brady

Smith is appealing his case to the Minnesota Supreme Court, claiming errors at the trial court and prosecutorial error.

The Supreme Court could uphold the convictions, overturn them or overturn the convictions and remand the case back to district court.

Meshbesher says if the case is sent back to the lower court, he feels a change of venue is likely because of the media exposure it drew.

Smith remains in prison while his appeal is pending.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for #2 in our Top 10 Stories of 2014.

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