Jury selection begins Monday in Smith murder trial

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor 

Following Judge Douglas Anderson’s decision to deny another motion to dismiss the case, jury selection will begin in the murder trial of Byron Smith.

Smith, 65, is a Little Falls man accused of first-degree, premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17, Nov. 22, 2012. Smith told law enforcement the two were burglarizing his home at the time.

Steve Meshbesher, Smith’s defense attorney had asked the court to dismiss the charges because the defense had not received items of discovery requested since January 2013. Anderson said in his denial, in part, that the state had provided all requested materials to the defense, unless it did not exist or because it was in the possession of another agency.

Anderson’s decision stated that the majority of the information sought pertained to an Oct. 12, 2012, burglary of Smith’s home and was irrelevant. The judge noted the court would not allow a “trial-within-a-trial” for the prior burglary, to the extent that it resulted in the confusion of the issues, unfair prejudice, misleading of the jury and the needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

Juror selection is estimated to take a week. Potential jurors will fill out questionnaires Monday, with just 20 expected to be questioned.

The court’s plan is that 30 potential jurors will be questioned each of the remaining four days, until the final jury of 14 has been selected.

The trial has been set to begin Monday, April 21.

Meshbesher is being assisted by Attorney Adam Johnson on the defense.

Washington County Attorney Peter Orput and Brent Wartner, named as special Morrison County assistant attorneys, will prosecute the case.