LF teen charged with aiding and abetting in October burglary at Smith’s home

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

A Little Falls teen appeared in Morrison County Court Tuesday, charged with aiding and abetting a burglary at the Byron Smith home in October 2012.

A month later, Smith was charged with two counts of second degree murder for shooting and killing Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, during an alleged burglary Thanksgiving Day.

Smith, 64, had reported his Little Falls home was burglarized Oct. 27, 2012. At that time, he told law enforcement his home and garage had been burglarized several times over the course of the summer and fall 2012.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said Smith had reported only the Oct. 27, 2012 burglary and that there was no record of other burglaries.

When Smith reported the October burglary, he said among the items stolen were a shotgun, a rifle, a Nikon camera and several thousand dollars in cash.

Search warrants for items believed to be stolen from Smith’s residence during the summer and fall of 2012, were executed Nov. 27 and 29, 2012, at the Little Falls home of 17-year-old Cody Mathew Kasper.

Investigators learned from Kasper’s father that Kasper might have information about the location of items stolen from Smith.

The criminal complaint said Kasper  acknowledged in a voluntary statement, that he had worked for Smith doing yard work the year before.

During the summer of 2012, Kasper said he and another 17-year-old, identified in the complaint as “N.B.”  with the same birth date as Nick Brady, traveled to the Smith home. He said he  did not enter the residence, but acted as a lookout while the other teen broke into the home and stole cash and a video camcorder.

Kasper said N.B. kicked in the basement door and returned with an envelope full of cash and a video camcorder.

N.B. allegedly bought items for Kasper including shoes and clothing, using the cash stolen from Smith and gave him an ATV for his part in helping with the burglary.

In mid-October, Kasper said he and N.B. returned to Smith’s residence, parking down by nearby soccer fields and walked to the home.

Kasper told authorities he  again acted as lookout while N.B. broke into the detached garage and came out with a chain saw, rolls of copper wire and a gas siphoning kit. The items were hidden in the woods near the property; the two returned at a later date to pick them up.

Kasper said the two maintained phone contact during both burglaries, so he could warn N.B. if someone was coming.

Another Little Falls teen was charged in December 2012 for possession of a firearm by an ineligible person, when investigation into the Smith burglaries led law enforcement to believe he had a Remington 12-gauge shotgun stolen from Smith’s home.

The criminal complaint said an 18-year-old questioned by authorities indicated he had received the shotgun from Jesse Daniel Kriesel, 16, in exchange for a bicycle and an electric garage heater in the first part of November 2012.

When he found out the gun may have been stolen, the 18-year-old told authorities he had asked Kriesel what he thought he should do about it. Kriesel told him “Don’t tell anything to the cops about it, and I won’t either.”

The gun was recovered and positively identified as the one stolen from Smith’s home in the October burglary.

With permission of his parent, Kriesel gave a voluntary statement to law enforcement.

He denied involvement in the burglaries at Smith’s home, but admitted he had received an old Remington 12-gauge from a person identified in the complaint as N.B.

N.B. had given Kriesel the gun as a payment for $130 he had given N.B., to allegedly help secure the purchase of two vehicles using other funds stolen from Smith’s residence.

Kriesel told authorities he honestly didn’t know if the firearm was or wasn’t stolen and only found out from a friend after he had traded the gun. He told authorities, “he didn’t think nuthin’ of it.”

Kriesel acknowledged he had been at Smith’s residence with N.B. earlier in the year to commit a burglary, but the two didn’t enter the residence, because it appeared someone was home at the time.

As good friends, Kriesel acknowledged he had been at N.B.’s home several times in the fall of 2012. At that home, Kriesel allegedly told authorities he had seen approximately seven to eight guns, a couple of which he said he knew came from Smith’s residence.

Other items Kriesel allegedly told law enforcement he saw at N.B.’s home and believed were stolen included a video camera, a high-end digital camera, car stereos, subwoofers, iPods and war medals, the majority of which Kriesel said he believed were taken from Smith’s residence. He also told officers he was aware of N.B.’s multiple burglaries in the summer and fall of 2012.

Kriesel said he stored the shotgun in his home’s garage and traded it for a bike and an electric garage heater.

In April 2010, Kriesel was adjudicated delinquent for aiding and abetting burglary in the second degree, considered a crime of violence under Minnesota Statute. Possession of a firearm by an ineligible, person, if committed by an adult, would result in presumptive commitment to prison for five years. Kriesel is ineligible to possess a firearm.

Middendorf would not say if there would be more charges brought forth, but that his office continues to review cases.

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