Prosecution files motion to combine charges in Smith murder case

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Prosecutors Peter Orput and Brent Warner filed a motion to consolidate the indictments against Byron Smith, and to seal all exhibits attached to the defendant’s and state’s omnibus hearing motions.

Smith, 64, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in November 2012, in the shooting deaths of Haile Kifer and Nick Brady, cousins who were allegedly breaking into his home Thanksgiving Day.

In April, Smith was indicted on two counts of first-degree premeditated murder by a Morrison County grand jury.

The prosecution’s motion asks that the initial criminal complaint issued Nov. 26, 2012 for second degree intentional murder charges as well as the first degree premeditated murder charges be consolidated.

“The facts and circumstances surrounding the two counts in the complaint and the indictment are the same and, therefore, it is proper for the court to consolidate and proceed with prosecution as if it were under a single charging instrument,” said the motion.

A motion filed by the defense in early August, asked the court to dismiss the first degree murder charges with prejudice. Defense attorney Steve Meshbesher cited the lack of probable cause, several individual and cumulative errors in the grand jury process, rule and statutory violations, violations of Smith’s state and federal constitutional rights and for prosecutorial misconduct, as reasons for the dismissal.

Meshbesher’s motion also requested that Smith’s statements to law enforcement at his residence and at the Morrison County Sheriff’s office the day after the shootings be suppressed, as well as physical evidence recovered from Smith’s residence.

The prosecution’s motion also asks that all supporting exhibits be suppressed, according to the court’s protective order issued in April.

A contested omnibus hearing for Smith is set for Friday, at 10 a.m., in Morrison County District court, heard by Judge Douglas P. Anderson.

Orput is the Washington County Attorney and Wartner the assistant Washington County Attorney.

Meshbesher, an attorney from Bloomington, was hired by Smith soon after his first court appearance in November 2012.