Minn. homeowner convicted of murder in killing of teens who broke in

Minn. homeowner convicted of murder in killing of teens who broke in

Little Falls, Minnesota –  … Jurors began deliberating Tuesday morning and within three hours had a verdict: Guilty on two counts each of first-degree and second-degree murder. Mothers of the teens cried as the verdicts were read, while Smith showed no emotion. Defense attorney Steve Meshbesher said he would appeal.

The teens’ killings stirred debate around the state and in Little Falls — a Mississippi River city of 8,000 about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis — about how far a homeowner can go in responding to a threat. Minnesota law allows deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one’s home or dwelling, but one’s actions must be considered reasonable under the circumstances.

Prosecutors said Smith’s plan was set in motion on the morning of the killings, after Smith saw a neighbor whom he believed responsible for prior burglaries drive by. Prosecutors say Smith moved his truck to make it look like no one was home, and then settled into a chair in his basement with a book, energy bars, a bottle of water and two guns.

Smith also set up a hand-held recorder on a bookshelf, which captured audio of the shootings — key evidence in the prosecution’s case. Smith had also installed a surveillance system that recorded images of Brady trying to enter the house.

The audio, which was played several times in court, captured the sound of glass shattering, then the sounds of Smith shooting Brady three times as he descended the basement stairs. Smith can be heard saying, “You’re dead.” Prosecutors said Smith put Brady’s body on a tarp and dragged him into another room, then sat down, reloaded his weapon and waited.

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