Defense questions law enforcement during Smith hearing

For more than three hours, the defense for Byron Smith examined three law enforcement officers. Smith is the 64-year-old Little Falls charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of teen cousins Haile Kiefer and Nick Brady, when they allegedly broke into his home Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012.

Nick Brady

Nick Brady

Steven Meshbesher, Smith’s defense attorney, had filed a motion in early August asking that the two counts of murder in the first degree be dismissed with prejudice. He cited 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.

Haile Kifer

Haile Kifer

In addition, Meshbesher’s motion indicated he would request 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.

Questions asked of Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Special Agent Chad Museus, Morrison County Deputy David Scherping and Sgt. Jeremy Luberts, during the contested omnibus hearing Aug. 30, centered on how each was contacted Nov. 23, 2012, the day after the shootings, the process they used when going to Smith’s home, the subsequent arrest and questioning of Smith, when Smith was Mirandized and how evidence was obtained.

Byron Smith

Byron Smith

While Museus was questioned only briefly about evidence regarding calls from a landline phone and Internet use the day after the shootings, Scherping and Luberts were questioned extensively about the sequence of events from the time the call came in from Smith’s neighbor, William Anderson, Nov. 23, 2012, the day after the shootings, when the bodies of Kifer and Brad were discovered in Smith’s basement and subsequent events leading to the Smith’s arrest and execution of search warrants at his home.

The defense was granted 30 days to review the transcripts of the court before offering evidence to support its motion to dismiss the charges. The prosecutor was granted an additional 30 days following that motion to submit one of its own. The transcripts are expected to be completed by Sept. 16. The defense will have until Oct. 15 to file and the prosecution until Nov. 14.

The court did grant a motion by prosecutor Peter Orput to consolidate the first degree premeditated murder indictment brought forth by a Morrison County Grand Jury with the initial charges made Nov. 26, 2012, for second degree murder charges. Orput is the Washington County Attorney who offered his services to Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf. He is being assisted by Brent Wartner, an assistant attorney with Washington County.

Meshbesher is being assisted by his associate, Adam T. Johnson.

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