Accused Little Falls killer posts bail

Byron David Smith
This Nov. 23, 2012, photograph provided by the Morrison County Sheriff's Office shows Byron David Smith.
AP Photo/Morrison County Sheriff's Office

The man charged with the murder of two teens in Little Falls last month has been released from jail on $50,000 cash bail. According to an official at the Morrison County Jail, Byron Smith was released just before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

He was charged late last month with two counts of second-degree murder.

Smith told police he shot Nicholas Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, multiple times after they broke into his house on Thanksgiving Day.

"He's presumed innocent by law," Smith's laywer Steve Meshbesher said. "The burden of proof is on the state. And they have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. And I have every intention of defending my client."

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Meshbesher said his client turned over his passport in court.

"We had him waive extradition in court," Meshbesher said. "He promised to stay in Minnesota during the course of the case, unless he gets permission to leave the state."

Smith is a former U.S. State Department security engineer. Police were investigating a break-in at his house in October.

Judge Douglas Anderson cut Smith's bail sharply Monday despite a plea by Assistant County Attorney Todd Kosovich to double or even triple it.

The prosecutor told the court that an audio recording Smith made of the shootings includes him telling Kifer "you're dying" after he had already wounded her, but before he fired a final shot into her head, all about 10 minutes after Smith shot Brady. His security system also made a video recording of the cousins breaking in, court documents show.

Kosovich did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday from the Associated Press.

Meshbesher said Tuesday that he hasn't seen any audio or video evidence yet and declined to say if the recordings will make it harder to defend Smith.

Meshbesher also declined to say where Smith would stay. He also declined to make Smith available for an interview.

The killings have divided the city of Little Falls, with some people supporting Smith's right to defend his home and others saying he went far beyond self-defense. Meshbesher, asked whether Smith feared for his life out of jail, declined to say.

"This is a very emotional case. The emotions are high. I would like to think people would follow the rule of law, and that's what courts are for, to resolve them in the confines of a courtroom, not emotionally, and not in the media," the attorney said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)