Day one of the trial of a Little Falls, Minnesota, man who’s accused of killing two teenagers he thought were breaking into his home brought a near packed house. Today the court heard defendant Byron Smith’s police statement outlining the events and his emotions that afternoon.
Both sides gave their opening statements. The prosecutors highlights Smith’s 24-hour delay before having a friend call the police, Smith having two guns within reach while reading and multiple times he shot each teenager. The defense portrayed Smith as a Vietnam vet who feared more for his life in his home than overseas.
The 65-year-old says he was a victim of about a dozen burglaries in the previous year in which he lost two guns, tools, money, family heirlooms and all 9 of his military medals. In his statement to police Smith say, “I knew they were gun thieves, as far as I’m concerned they were armed.”
Smith’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher says, “He didn’t know they were teenagers. He didn’t know if they were armed. All he sees is a hood surrounding their faces, has no idea their age or their sex with black gloves on disguising their hands. And then the second person has a backpack on. For all he knows they’ve got a hand grenade in that things. He doesn’t know what’s going on.”
During Smith’s statement Morrison County Sergeant Jeremy Luberts asked him why Smith shot the unarmed teenagers as many times as he did. Smith said he didn’t think he hit them enough to be safe. Smith also said, “Yes, I did shoot more times than I needed to.” However Smith attorney says Smith was justified in protecting himself.
Meshbesher says, “Would you take the hoodie off so I can see your face. Who are you? How old are you by the way? What are you doing in my house? Why did you shatter the window? Why don’t you come in the front door? That’s not a fair question. The answer to that question is he didn’t know that and no one would have known that in his spot.”
The state prosecutors told us they’re reserving their comments until the end of the trial.