Insisting the case crosses the line from self-defense to a cold-blooded double execution, Morrison County authorities filed second-degree murder charges Monday against a 64-year-old man who killed two teenage cousins after they'd broken into his home on Thanksgiving.
This woodsy central Minnesota town of 8,000 was jolted as the gruesome details spilled out in a criminal complaint, alleging Byron David Smith put a handgun under the chin of wounded and gasping 18-year-old Haile Kifer for what he told police was a "good clean finishing shot."
Smith, who according to a friend and a relative had endured previous break-ins, sat shackled in an orange jail jumpsuit as County Attorney Brian Middendorf accused him of "cold-blooded murder of two teenagers under circumstances that are appalling and far beyond any self-defense claim."
Sheriff Michel Wetzel said Monday that he believes the teenagers were committing a burglary but said Smith's reaction went beyond legal protections of Minnesota law that allows crime victims to use reasonable force to protect themselves and their property during a felony.
"We understand and respect that right exists, but what happened in this case went further," Wetzel said. "The law doesn't permit you to execute somebody when there's no possible way the crime can continue."
But what is irritating is the argument that these were "good kids"
A prosecutor at Morrison County District Court on Monday morning called Smith's reaction 'appalling'.You break into someone's home, you are not good kids and you put your lives and your victim's life at risk. Unfortunately for them, they broke into a home of someone who looks to be off the deep end and paid for it.
'Mr. Smith intentionally killed two teenagers in his home in a matter that goes well beyond self-defense,' Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf said at the hearing.
Friends have taken to a memorial Facebook page for Kifer and Schaeffel to vent their anger about the deaths. Others spoke out at a vigil for the youngsters on Sunday night.
'They were just really great people,' friend Rachel Stauffer, 15, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. 'They could make anyone laugh.'
Carlee Davich, who coached Kifer in swimming at school, added: 'She was always happy. She had a way that just made everyone happy. A lot of the swimmers and divers looked up to her.'