By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
The day after jurors heard Byron David Smith’s interview with Sgt. Jeremy Luberts, recounting the events of the day he shot Nick Brady and Haile Kifer after they broke into his home, jurors heard an audio recording of the actual shootings. Later, they would see photos of the inside of Smith’s home, including the bodies where Smith had placed them in his workshop..
During a search by law enforcement several days after the shootings, an audio recording had been discovered atop one of two tall bookcases set up in Smith’s basement. The bookcases were arranged so that one was on either side of a cushioned chair. Smith told Luberts he had been sitting in the chair reading a paperback when the break-in occurred. The furniture was stationed off to the side at the bottom of the basement steps.
Chad Museus, BCA senior special agent, said the audio that the jury heard was a clip taken from six hours of audio recovered.
As the 14-minute clip of the audio began, the sound of breaking glass could first be heard — a window had been broken in Smith’s bedroom.
Footsteps, determined to be Brady’s, who came down Smith’s basement stairs first, were heard and more noise made by glass. The footsteps continued, getting closer; a shot rang out, Brady groaned, and two quick shots followed. As Smith was heard saying, “You’re dead” on the audio, sobs could be heard from some of those present in the courtroom.
Smith had told Luberts he put Brady’s body on a tarp and dragged it into a workshop in the basement. Within seconds of the last shot, movement with the tarp was heard on the audio, as well as the dragging.
About 11 minutes elapsed between the shooting of Brady and Kifer’s appearance at the stairs. During that time lapse, heavy footsteps could be heard and labored breathing, as well as the loading of a gun. Activity was heard on the audio, and more heavy footsteps and breathing.
Near the end of the audio clip, Kifer was heard softly calling, “Nick?” as she descended the stairs. A shot rings out; she could be heard falling and gasping; Smith said, “Oh, sorry about that.” Kifer can be heard making another noise and Smith said, “You’re dying, bitch.” Following more heavy breathing and footsteps, a final gunshot was heard before the audio clip ended.
In the afternoon, when Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Forensics Specialist Nathaniel Pearlson testified, photos of the different areas of Smith’s home were shown, including the broken window in his bedroom in the southwest corner of the upstairs. Glass littered a dresser and the floor in the room. Other photos and diagrams showed the layout of Smith’s home, and how the furniture was placed in Smith’s basement. A water jug and snack bars were on a table next to the chair and bookcases, Pearlson testified. Just off that room was the workshop and a photo showed the bodies of Kifer laying atop the body of Brady, wrapped in a tarp. Kifer was seen laying face up, her bloodied midriff bared and knees bent to one side.
Museus was on duty the day after the shootings, Nov. 23, 2012, when the call came about 2 p.m. from the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office for help. Museus, who supervises the northern portion of Minnesota, said he made the trip from Bemidji to arrive at the Smith residence about 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. He assisted the crime scene team in removing the bodies from the residence. He would later make the death notifications to the families of Brady and Kifer.
He said he also traveled to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office to view the autopsies and to provide the audio clip to aid the medical examiner.
Pearlson then showed the two guns used in the shooting, a semi-automatic Ruger mini-14 ranch rifle, that used Remington .223-caliber cartridges. Pearlson used gloves to show the other gun, a revolver, to avoid contaminating the blood found on the gun. Pearlson described the revolver as a high standard double nine convertible, capable of holding nine rounds of .22-caliber ammunition.
Pearlson also described the photos taken at Smith’s home, showing the broken window with a metal bar standing beneath it outside. He pointed out evidence of blood found under towels and rugs in Smith’s basement, as well as places on the wall next to the stairs and some found on a portion of the ceiling.
Pearlson pointed out light bulbs that had been removed from three light fixtures, indicating an area where six light bulbs were found as well as glass lamp shades located near the chair between the bookcases.
Until the trial was recessed at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Pearlson walked jurors through the findings of the crime scene team. Processing of the scene, he said, started at 6:43 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, and continued until 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012.
The trial will resume Wednesday, April 23, at 9 a.m.