Shocking, graphic testimony dominates Smith trial’s first week

Audio recordings, surveillance video, photos depict violent deaths

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Byron Smith

Byron Smith

The first four days of the Byron Smith murder trial in Little Falls brought shocking, often graphic testimony every day.

Smith, 65, is accused of first-degree premeditated murder for shooting Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, multiple times, after they broke into his Little Falls home Nov. 22, 2012, Thanksgiving Day. The jury will determine if, under Minnesota law, Smith went too far in defending his home.

Throughout the week, jurors heard audio tape from the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office of Smith admitting to the shootings, another audio tape made by Smith of the actual shootings and what Smith said afterward, and saw a video surveillance recording that Smith had set up outside his house showing the teens coming on to his property.

MONDAY: The jury hears Smith confess to the shootings

On Monday, jurors heard opening statements from assistant prosecutor Brent Wartner, who is assisting Washington County Attorney Peter Orput, who is serving as a special Morrison County assistant attorney for this case, and defense attorney Steven Meshbesher, assisted by Adam Johnson.

Haile Kifer

Haile Kifer

Wartner said that Smith’s home had been burglarized multiple times, that Smith was angry because of that, and was waiting in the basement when Brady broke in and was later followed by Kifer, shooting each of them multiple times, even after the first shot wounded each of them. The deaths were not reported to law enforcement until the following day, after Smith called neighbor William Anderson, who then dialed 911.

Meshbesher said, “this is not a case of ‘whodunit.’ Mr. Smith is the person who shot and killed those two people, but he is not criminally responsible for their deaths; he is not guilty of murder.”

The prosecution then began presenting its case. Morrison County Deputy David Scherping, was the first witness, who gave the jury the sequence of events that occurred after Anderson called law enforcement.

Nick Brady

Nick Brady

Then the mothers of the two dead teens, Kim Brady  and Jenny Kifer, testified they learned on Nov. 23 their children were dead, their children’s ages and identified photos of the teens.

Next, Morrison County Sheriff Sgt. Jeremy Luberts testified he went to Smith’s home with Scherping after Anderson’s call, while Deputy Rick Matteson parked back from the house.

Luberts testified that Smith came out with his hands over his head, led officers through his home, taking them downstairs, showed them where he had been when he heard intruders. He then brought the officers to the workshop where the bodies of Brady and Kifer were lying.

Smith told officers he had shot the first intruder, Brady, wrapped him in a tarp and dragged him into the workshop area. When Kifer made her way down the steps, he did the same, shooting her first in the hip area, and when she fell down the stairs, shot her again, multiple times, before dragging her to the workshop with Brady.

Smith’s interview with Luberts, taped on Nov. 23-24, 2012, was played for the jurors. During the hour-plus interview, Smith waived his right to have an attorney present with him and told Luberts there had been a pattern of thefts – the same pattern that “goes back a long time.”

He said he had been home that Thanksgiving Day. He had taken his truck out of the garage with the intention of cleaning his garage and had parked it about a three minute walk away to keep it from being vandalized. He was sitting in the basement in his favorite reading chair, reading a paperback, he said, when he heard the rattling of a door upstairs and saw a shadow across the picture window, then heard more rattling. “I’m getting seriously stressed because somebody wants in and it’s happened before,” he said in the interview.

He said he sat there waiting for them to go away and after a bit of silence, heard the sound of a glass window being broken. “So I’m sitting in the chair, now. For the past month, my life has been very unhappy. I haven’t slept very well. In fact, I’m lucky to get one good night’s sleep a month, and I’m keeping everything locked up because I’m being victimized again and again,” Smith told Luberts.

He said during the interview that he’d been walking around his home with a gun, “These are people who have stolen my guns. I figure they are willing to use guns if they steal guns, and I decide I’ve got a choice of shooting or being shot, which is sort of what I came to when I started carrying it with me. The past month, I’ve felt very threatened inside my home.”

After shooting Brady, he said he sat in his chair with the blood pounding in his head. Then Kifer came down the stairs.

Smith said during the interview that everyone has sore spots “and I’ve known since grade school that being ganged up on is a sore spot with me. I wasn’t thinking. I was just ‘they’re ganging up on me,’ so I killed her, too, the same way.”

He said, after the first shot, his new mini-14 Ruger jammed. Smith said Kifer laughed at him, and he pulled out his .22 and “shot her and shot her.”

Smith told Luberts that for the couple of weeks before the shooting, he had kept his guns in the basement instead of in the upstairs closet. “Home defense has never been an issue until recently,” he said. Neither Brady nor Kifer had a gun.

Smith told Luberts that he wasn’t going to ask if they had a gun. “People who steal guns, I don’t want to give them a chance to shoot me,” he said, noting he didn’t check to see whether they had a gun somewhere. He said whoever had been breaking into his house had been doing it for so long, “I was tired of living in fear,” and said he was “far over the edge.”

In the 20 years he spent overseas in places like Bangkok, Moscow and Beijing, Smith said in the interview that he never had to kill anyone, was never even threatened, had nothing stolen or vandalized, until he retired to his hometown. When Luberts asked Smith why he shot Kifer again, Smith told him he didn’t know how well he had hit her. “She was laying there, but could have come up again for all I know,” he said. “I’m not going to ask her if she has a gun; I’m not going to wait until she shows it or if she uses it while I’m looking for it. … I already determined they were gun thieves. As far as I was concerned, they were totally dangerous.”

Smith said he didn’t call law enforcement because for the first couple of hours he was shaking and the next couple of hours he worried about another accomplice. He told Luberts later he thought that just because his Thanksgiving had been screwed up, he didn’t want to screw up their Thanksgiving Day.

TUESDAY: Audio is played of teens being killed

Tuesday, BCA Forensics Specialist Nathaniel Pearlson testified about holes found in the hooded sweatshirt Kifer was wearing, noting that his conclusion on gun residue testing was that one of the shots had been taken within 6 inches.

Meshbesher questioned him about the patterns of residue found that would indicate how close a shot might be and Pearlson explained he could determine a range from which the gun was fired.

As Meshbesher continued questioning Pearlson’s report, Pearlson told him the report for the court contained the conclusions Pearlson had made while processing the evidence, and that the basis for the conclusions were in his notes.

Assistant Defense Attorney Adam Johnson called for a mistrial at Wednesday morning’s first break, saying the defense had not been provided with Pearlson’s notes during discovery.

Assistant Prosecutor Brent Wartner countered that the state had provided all the evidence and had even made available to the defense the opportunity to view evidence not in the state’s possession, but available through other agencies. The state was not required “to carry it to them” he said.

Pearlson had his roughly 100 pages of notes at the courthouse, he said.

Judge Douglas Anderson denied the motion for a mistrial, but offered to have copies of Pearlson’s notes, as well as time to talk to Pearlson about the notes, before the jury was reconvened.

Tuesday, the defense had also called for a mistrial because of Judge Anderson’s prior ruling that cellphone calls on the teens’ phones were inadmissible and for comments the prosecutor made to the media about convicting Smith.

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 where Smith was sitting 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 in Smith’s bedroom window could first be heard. Footsteps, determined to be Brady’s, were heard and more noise made by glass. The footsteps came closer; a shot rang out, Brady groaned, and two quick shots followed. Smith was heard saying, “You’re dead” on the audio, as sobs could be heard from some of those present in the courtroom.

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. Near the end of the audio clip, Kifer was heard softly calling, “Nick?” as she descended the stairs. A shot rang 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” as more shots rang out. 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 body of Kifer lying atop the body of Brady, wrapped in a tarp. Kifer was lying face up, her bloodied midriff bared and knees bent to one side.

Museus was on duty in Bemidji 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. He arrived at the Smith residence about 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., and assisted the crime scene team in removing the bodies from the residence.

Pearlson then showed the two guns used in the shooting, a semi-automatic Ruger mini-14 ranch rifle, that used Remington .223-caliber cartridges, and a high standard double nine convertible, capable of holding nine rounds of .22-caliber ammunition.

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 also 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.

WEDNESDAY: Jurors watch surveillance tape, hear more audio from Smith

Wednesday afternoon, 29 minutes of audio were heard replaying the shootings, but also Smith speaking after the shootings.

Moments after the final shot, Smith could be heard saying, “I’m safe now. … I feel a little bit safer, not totally safe, still shaking a bit, but a little bit safer.

“I left my house at 11:30 — they were both dead by 1. … I refuse to live in fear.”

As if holding a conversation, he said, “It was a major complication in life, but you really don’t want to know, believe me, you don’t want to know. … I am not a bleeding heart liberal. … I felt like I was cleaning up a mess … worse mess possible. I was stuck with it.”

Smith said he was doing “my civic duty.” He said in the recording, “If the law enforcement system can’t, I have to do it. I had to do it. The law system didn’t work and it fell in my lap; she drove it into my lap.

“They were together, I see them as vermin; social mistakes, social problems,” he said. “I don’t see them as human, I see them as social defects. … spend their life spoiling life for other people, stealing, robbing, using drugs.”

“It’s all fun, cool, exciting, highly profitable, until somebody kills you,” he said.

A little later, he’s heard saying, “I’m sorry, so much regret. I tried to be a good person. I do what I should, be friendly to other people, help them when I can. I try to be a good citizen, be fair. … Because I try to be a decent person and, I’m a sucker. They think I’m here for them to take advantage of, that’s not the reward for being a good person — and they dump this mess on me. It’s not a mess like spilled food, not even like diarrhea,” he said. “It’s far worse. They take slice after slice out of me — a $5,000 slice, $10,000 slice. And if I gather enough evidence that they might be prosecuted, if they are prosecuted, they might go to court. If they go to court they might be found guilty. If found guilty, they might spend six months and two months in jail and then they’re out and they need money worse than ever and filled with revenge.

“I cannot live my life like that — cannot have that chewing on me the rest of my life. … I refuse to live with that level of fear in my life,” he said. “It’s a game, it’s exciting, highly profitable, until somebody kills you; until you go too far and somebody kills you; until you take advantage of somebody who’s not a sucker … a patsy.

The audio was played during the testimony of Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) agent Janet Nelson. Nelson processes digital evidence of crime scenes, as well as forensic video analysis of surveillance video.

Jurors received copies of the  transcript, but were told by Judge Anderson that if they felt they heard something different on the audio than what Nelson had written in the transcript, they were to ignore Nelson’s transcript and rely on what they felt they heard.

Jurors saw Smith exit his front door, enter his vehicle, back it out and leave about 11:25 a.m. Nelson said when she turned on the DVR recorder, it was time stamped with the time and date of each video. She checked the accuracy with her own cellphone. “They were within seconds” she said.

Smith would return to his home on foot 20 minutes later, about 11:45 a.m.

At 12:33 p.m., Brady is seen running up the stairs of the deck in the back of the residence. He begins looking in windows and tries a door. About 12:35 p.m. he spots a camera positioned in a wood pile and turns it upside down and on another camera, he can be seen holding his hands over his face. He’s seen walking around the front of the house about 12:37 p.m., goes around the back of the house about 12:38 p.m., and at 12:39 p.m., he’s seen for the last time on the surveillance video on the upper deck in the back of the house.

It’s not until 12:51 p.m. that Kifer can be seen running across the driveway in the front yard, to the upper deck. She’s carrying a large pink purse, with a cellphone to her ear. She walks out of camera range and walks into another camera range at 12:53 p.m.

“That’s the last either is seen on camera,” Nelson said.

Prior to Nelson’s testimony, Pearlson was questioned by the defense on the layout of Smith’s home, blood found there, as well as shell casings and holes and gun residue found on the clothing of Brady and Kifer.

Pearlson said a metal bar found outside standing against the wall beneath the broken window had been taken into evidence, but it had not been tested, a decision that was not his to make, he said.

Pearlson also said a glass pipe found in Kifer’s purse had not been tested for any sort of residue.

THURSDAY: Jury sees graphic autopsy photos of gunshot wounds; state rests its case

The state rested its case late Thursday, after testimony by several witnesses, including  Dr. Kelly Mills, medical examiner with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office. Mills performed the autopsies on Brady and Kifer.

As Mills testified about the wounds found on each of the bodies during the initial autopsy Nov. 24, 2012, the prosecution projected large, graphic photos of the wounds taken during the autopsy.

Brady’s wounds

Before pointing out wounds on the body of Brady, Mills told how she received the body — it came to her in a sealed bag. Once opened, she found Brady fully clothed in jeans, T-shirt and camouflage jacket and wrapped in a tarp. A photo of Brady’s body in the tarp flashed on the screen. His hands had been wrapped in bags and secured with duct tape to preserve evidence. She pointed out blood on his face and on the left side of his neck.

Mills said she first removed the bags, documented (photographed) the hand wounds and collected forensic evidence from them. First gun residue was collected. Mills said Brady had gloves on both hands and using a tube with high adhesive on one end, dabbed the hands and palms to collect minute traces of gunshot residue from both the right and left hands. She repeated the procedure on his bare hands once the gloves were removed.

Mills explained in cases of trying to figure out the proximity (how close) to the gun going off, gun residue is  tested. She said Brady had gunshots to both hands. His right hand had gunpowder “stippling,” unburned gunpowder flakes that come out of the muzzle of a gun with the bullet, she said.

Mills pointed out entry and exit wounds of the three gunshots to Brady first on a sketched diagram of a human figure.

A wound on the right side of Brady’s head was a re-entry wound from a gunshot through the back of his right hand, which exited through his palm.

Brady’s head showed what she called pseudo-stippling, “abnormal injuries you get with shrapnel,” she said, likely from the bones in his hands. She pointed out the gunpowder stippling on his hand.

Mills said when determining whether the barrel of the gun is close to skin, she looks for “soot,” a gunpowder that’s been fully consumed in expulsion of the deposit. It creates a deposit like soot from fires, a black powdery material. She also looks for gunpowder flakes unburned on the skin and the stippling. Either or both of those, decreases the range and brings the barrel closer to the target. She said in this instance, it appeared as though the barrel was from up against the skin to within six inches.

More than six inches away, she said soot won’t be seen anymore, but stippling can be present from 2 1/2 – 3 feet away, depending upon the gun.

The bullet passed through his hand went through his head and skull and into his brain. A close-up of the wound on the right side of his face was projected, as she explained the wound was large and irregular, typical of a re-entry wound. Mills said she recovered a bullet from his brain.

The large exit wound on Brady’s palm, she said, was typical of a high velocity gun.

The second of Brady’s gunshot wounds catalogued was a grazing gunshot wound on his left thumb with no indication of soot. She said that gunshot would re-enter Brady’s body in the left region of his abdomen. The projected photo showed the area, discolored with an abrasion, and two bumps where small bullet fragments were in the wound tract. Other fragments were in the left side of the abdomen. The bullet she said continued on into the liver and went through the right side of the chest wall. She recovered that bullet as well.

A photo depicted the exit wound of this gunshot on Brady’s right side.

A third gunshot entry wound was shown on the back of Brady’s left shoulder near his armpit. That gunshot would exit on his upper right back. She said no stippling was found on the entrance wound of this shot and that the exit wound, a larger wound, was typical for a high velocity weapon. The trajectory was determined to be through the internal thorax cavity. It damaged the lung. No bullets or fragments were recovered.

Mills said that any one of the three shots to Brady could have been fatal after a certain amount of time, but that the  gunshot that entered his brain was the one to cause his death first.

Mills indicated that she used reports on the clothing of the deceased from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), but to determine sequence of the gun firing, she listened to the audio to determine when Brady stopped making vocal patterns.

Based on that, Mills determined the gunshot that went into his brain was the final shot.

The toxicology reports on Brady came back as negative for drugs and alcohol.

Kifer’s wounds

In describing the photos of Kifer, Mills said Kifer was fully dressed, wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, with blood visible on her hip and face. Mills said Kifer’s head appeared going off to one side, with her injuries to her face and a black mark indicating a gunshot to her neck and jaw.

Mills identified a gunshot wound by Kifer’s left eye as it was projected onto the screen. Mills indicated there was no black material around the wound and no gunpowder stippling as seen on Brady. The path of this gunshot, Mills said, was beyond the left eye, it went through the soft tissue of the face, the bony ridge of the left eye and into the internal bony structure of the face.

Another gunshot behind Kifer’s left ear, showed a dark flaky material, which Mills said was actual charring of the skin, but no soot or stippling.

Mills had examined Kifer’s hooded jacket and saw the gunshot hole on the hood, with possible soot material on the hood. The BCA report of the processing of the hood showed positive for gunshot residue.

Mills’ conclusion was that the gunshot was from close range, since charring occurs when a gun is very close to the skin surface. That bullet traveled through the soft tissue of Kifer’s neck, a portion of the left tonsil and into the skull, it damaged the brain stem and went into various portions of the brain, where Mills recovered multiple minute fragments. “This is the fatal shot,” said Mills.

A third gunshot wound found on Kifer’s body was on the right side of the neck, with soot around the wound. This shot went in through the soft tissue of the neck, behind the voice box, into the right portion of the cervical column where it fragmented, Mills said.

A fourth gunshot wound, with stippling, was found on the front left of Kifer’s abdomen. Mills pointed out little black dots consistent with unburned gunpowder flakes, some red flakes and gunpowder stippling just above her bellybutton. This shot traveled through the soft tissues of the abdomen, the left lobe of the liver, and through the right side of the diaphragm and lodged in the back area where the diaphragm is attached.

A fifth gunshot wound is seen on the back of Kifer’s left forearm, which exited the other side and entered Kifer’s left side, damaging the lower left lung and into the rib region next to the spinal column, where a bullet was recovered.

A sixth gunshot grazed the web of skin on Kifer’s right hand between her thumb and index finger. This wound had soot on the skin indicating the end of the muzzle was close.  The bullet making this wound was not recovered in Kifer’s body. Kifer had a black glove on her left hand. Mills said gun residue was visible on the glove.

Mills said two different types of ammunition were used in the shots fired at Kifer.

Toxicology reports on Kifer came back negative for alcohol, but a urine screen tested positive for dextrometharpan and marijuana metabolite (an inactive component, not THC). She said the dextrometharpan is an anti suppressant found in over-the-counter cough syrup, which could be a toxin if used in above-recommended doses.

Mills said the cause of death in both instances was “multiple gunshot wounds, homicide.”

Defense attorney Steve Meshbesher questioned Mills about the meaning of the “homicide” as used in a cause of death report. Mills said in her line of work, the word “homicide” is made in reference to one human being killing another human being, not necessarily murder; it does not include intent, she said.

Meshbesher questioned Mills about determining whether a wound would have been fatal or non-fatal, whether a wound would incapacitate or fatally wound a person, and if it could be determined where on the stairs the person was when a certain shot was fired.

Mills said she could determine three shots were fired during the audio when Brady could be heard.

Meshbesher asked whether a person who had sustained the first two of the gunshot wounds would have still been able to move. Mills said the two first gunshot wounds would not have disabled Brady to such a degree that he could not stand.

“Theoretically Mr. Brady would have the ability to stand,” she said, although he would not be able to use his right hand.

Meshbesher asked whether, if Brady had a gun in his sweatshirt, could he have used a gun. Mills said theoretically he could have used his left hand.

Meshbesher further questioned if, after sustaining the first gunshot wounds, if that person could still be violent and whether that violence could be deadly, beyond control of the shooter. “There is that possibility,” said Mills.

Mills agreed when Meshbesher asked if the final gunshot sustained by Brady was the shot immediately fatal.

Mills confirmed Brady could have been moving around before the final gunshot and possibly in a violent way.

As for Kifer, Meshbesher asked about the six shots heard in the audio when she was shot.

Mills said she heard six shots fired in the audio, and had to separate them. Meshbesher asked whether the sixth shot heard could have missed. “That’s possible, but six shots were fired,” said Mills, adding that Kifer sustained six gunshot wounds.

Meshbesher asked whether the first gunshot wound sustained by Kifer incapacitated her and whether she would have still been able to move. Mills agreed Kifer would have been able to use three out of four of her limbs.

Mills was unable to verify the time lapse between the shots fired at Kifer, but admitted she did recall that she was aware that Smith had said he shot Kifer under the chin. That wound, determined to be the final wound, had soot said Mills.

Mills agreed that the gunshot that entered the brainstem and brain would have been immediately fatal, the person would be on the ground immediately, but that it was a matter of opinion how quickly a person would die.

Kifer was heard making sounds on the audio recording. Meshbesher asked whether a deceased body can continue to make sounds. Mills said sounds could be from air coming from the body. She also testified that when a body is moved from side to side, a moaning sound could be heard.

Meshbesher asked whether it was possible that Mr. Smith heard a post mortem sound when he told law enforcement he heard noise from Kifer after the fifth shot. “If he was moving her,” Mills said.

Once again, responding to Meshbesher, Mills agreed that if a person had acted in self-defense, or in defense of home when shooting another, that manner of death would still be called “multiple gunshot wounds, homicide.”

Other marks on Kifer’s body Mills was asked about included 66 cut marks on her arms.

Mills said the cuts were in different stages of healing, with three on Kifer’s right forearms; seven on the back of her right forearm; 32 on the front of her left forearm and 14 on the back of her left forearm.

Mills could not determine when the cuts were inflicted, but said it was her opinion they were self-inflicted, but not evidence of suicide.

As for the toxicology report on Kifer, Mills was not able to determine how the marijuana metabolite was ingested or how recently.

Mills said that a person could die from abusing dextromethorpan, the other drug found in Kifer’s system, and that Kifer would have been considered intoxicated by the amount in her system at the time of her death.

Mills verified the drug could cause hallucinations, alter perception and possibly cause a psychotic affect in chronic abusers.

Other testimony
Smith’s neighbor William Anderson was questioned briefly about a visit he had with Smith the morning of Nov. 22, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. Anderson said he could not recall what Smith said about a female neighbor as she drove by.

Brent Matzke, a BCA forensic scientist, provided information on DNA collected from items taken from the crime scene and Pearlson was asked to clarify his testimony on the distance determined from gunshot residue on the sleeve of Kifer’s sweatshirt. The state rested its case about 3:10 p.m.

Meshbesher’s motion for acquittal denied
The jury was asked to leave the courtroom Thursday, before Meshbesher moved for acquittal. The state asked the court to deny the motion.

Judge Anderson denied the motion immediately.

Defense begins with deputy
The defense began its case in cross examination of Morrison County Deputy Jamie Luberts (not Sgt. Jeremy Luberts), regarding his investigation of an Oct. 27, 2012, burglary of Smith’s home.

Luberts said he was shown that the bottom panel of a basement walkout door had been kicked out and shown areas of the home that someone had ransacked, including a dresser in Smith’s bedroom, and documented the scene with photos.

Luberts testified he did not collect fingerprints from the handle of the door, doorknobs or deadbolt. Neither did he collect fingerprints from the outside screen door or the interior wooden door.

Luberts said it appeared that Smith’s things had been gone through in several rooms of the house, both downstairs and upstairs.

In Smith’s bedroom, Luberts said he removed a fingerprint from the top of the night stand, that he later learned was not of sufficient quality to get a good print, but was still in evidence.

Luberts said a handprint on top of a wooden box had looked more like a smudge than a regular hand-down handprint and didn’t believe there was enough detail to lift a print. He said he didn’t make a judgement of whether it was a print from a bare hand or a gloved hand.

Thanksgiving Day shooting timeline

Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012

  • 11:25 a.m.  – Byron Smith exits his front door, gets in his vehicle and drives away.
  • 11:45 a.m. – Smith returns home on foot.
  • 12:33 p.m. – Nicholas Brady runs up the back steps of Smith’s home and tries a door.
  • 12:35 p.m. – Brady spots a surveillance camera and turns it over.
  • 12:37 p.m. – Brady walks around the front of the house.
  • 12:38 p.m. – Brady goes to the back of the house,
  • 12:39 p.m. – Brady is seen alive on camera  for the last time on the upper deck in back of Smith’s home.
  • A minute or two later – Smith shoots Brady as he comes down the basement stairs, then kills him with multiple shots, places his body on a tarp and drags him into an adjoining workroom.
  • 12:51 p.m. – Haile Kifer runs across Smith’s front yard to the upper deck with a cellphone to her ear, presumably attempting to call Brady.
  • 12:53 p.m. — Kifer is seen alive on camera for the last time.
  • A minute or two later —Smith shoots Kifer as she comes down the basement stairs, then kills her with multiple shots, drags her body into the workroom and places it on top of the tarp holding Brady’s body.
  • Five hours later – Smith removes light bulbs from three light fixtures.

Friday, Nov. 23, 2012

  1. About 1 p.m. – After talking to Smith, his neighbor William Anderson calls law enforcement, who discover the bodies of Brady and Kifer.
  2. About 2 p.m. – The Morrison County Sheriff’s Office calls the BCA for help.
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