Convicted murderer Byron Smith's legal team pushes for new trial

Byron Smith, a convicted murderer from Little Falls, Minnesota who shot and killed two teen intruders in his home nearly seven years ago believes his constitutional rights were violated by a state court judge in Morrison County. Now, his legal team is arguing he deserves a new trial

The legal fight moved to the 8th District U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Paul Wednesday. Defense Attorney Steve Meshbesher insists he will never stop fighting for Byron Smith. 

Meshbesher argues Smith was wrongly convicted for murdering teenage cousins Nick Brady and Haile Kifer, continuing to call it a case of self-defense.

“They broke into his home by smashing a window, climbing through the smashed window and then confronting him in his basement,” he said.

Meshbesher contends Smith’s constitutional right to an open and public trial was violated back in 2014 when a Morrison County judge at his state trial briefly closed the courtroom before opening statement.

Prosecutors insist the move wasn’t a big deal, and it did not ultimately impact the guilty verdict.

“This was a minor closure just for administrative proceedings…no reason for it to be a problem,” said Brent Wartner, attorney for the State of Minnesota.

Smith, now 71, is serving a life sentence at Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility.

While Brady and Kifer’s parents sat in the gallery, Smith was not in the courtroom Wednesday morning as the lawyers argued before a three-judge panel. But, Smith did file a 38-page brief in his own handwriting where he says his trial was invalid and that he allegedly has proof the State manipulated the original jury pool

“This is a public forum, and this should have been a public trial,” Meshbesher said.

“This case does need to be put to rest once and for all. We believe the Court of Appeals will do that,” Wartner added.

After Wednesday’s hearing, the Kifers and the Bradys headed out into the snow. They didn’t want to say anything on camera, only adding, “we love our children and nothing will bring them back.” 

Their families and everyone else involved in this case, including Byron Smith, await a ruling from the three-judge panel.