abc
QUICK LINKS:

Doctor: Teen Fatally Shot in Little Falls was Intoxicated

Updated: 04/24/2014 9:23 PM
Created: 04/24/2014 9:20 PM WDIO.com
By: Beth McDonough

An 18-year-old woman who was fatally shot by a Minnesota homeowner was high on cough syrup and marijuana when she and her cousin broke into the man's home, a medical examiner testified Thursday at the homeowner's murder trial.

Byron Smith, of Little Falls, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the deaths of Haile Kifer and Kifer's cousin, 17-year-old Nick Brady, on Thanksgiving Day 2012. Smith, 65, claimed he was defending himself and feared for his life after several break-ins at his home.

The killings stunned Little Falls, a central Minnesota community of 8,000, and stirred debate about how far people can go to defend their homes. Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one's home or dwelling. But authorities have said Smith planned the killings, sitting in his basement and waiting for the teens to enter his home, and then continuing to shoot them after they were no longer a threat.

Under cross-examination by the defense, Dr. Kelly Mills with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office said Kifer had an ingredient from cough medicine in her system at a level that would make her intoxicated. Mills said the drug, dextromethorphan, can cause hallucinations, disassociation and an out-of-body experience.

Kifer's toxicology tests also showed the presence of a marijuana metabolite that Mills says had no hallucinogenic effects. Brady had no drugs or alcohol in his system, Mills said.

The question of possible drug use became an issue after the killings as Smith's friends claimed the teens were high on drugs, and authorities said a car linked to Brady and Kifer contained prescription drugs that had been stolen from another house. However, those drugs won't be allowed as evidence in court.

Prosecutors showed jurors autopsy photos as Smith's trial entered its fourth day. Mills testified that Brady was shot three times, Kifer six times. The final shot to Brady, which went through his hand and into his right temple, was the "most immediate fatal," Mills said. She described it as a close-range shot.

Kifer also was shot in the head at close range, Mills testified. She said the shot that killed Kifer, the fifth fired by Smith, was a close-range shot behind her left ear. The autopsy photos showed bloody bodies with burn marks from the gunfire.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Steven Meshbesher pointed out that before the fatal shots, both Kifer and Brady would have been able to move and could have been perceived as threats.

The prosecution rested its case about 3 p.m. and the defense started trying to make sure the self-defense argument holds up.

Earlier this week, prosecutors played for jurors an audio recording Smith made of the shootings. The tape was presented to jurors as a sequence of events, but defense attorneys raised questions about the recording on cross-examination, noting it had been spliced and altered, and some key pieces of information were left out.

Testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Front Page

  • US and Partners Begin Airstrikes in Syria

    The aerial effort against the extremist group Islamic State has been expanded from Iraq into Syria. The Pentagon says the operation involves warplanes from the U.S. and its partners.

  • Ebola Worker with Northland Ties Killed in Guinea

    A pastor and clinic administrator with ties in Duluth was killed in Guinea last week. Moses Mamy was part of an Ebola awareness team traveling from village to village. When they reached Womey last Tuesday, residents attacked and killed Mamy and seven others. Mamy's friends say he will be remembered for "his generous heart."

  • Saint Louis County Board Forum Gets Heated

    There were some tense moments during a candidate forum for the Saint Louis County Board Monday. Two sets of candidates answered some tough questions during the forum set up by the Duluth News Tribune. In District One, Jim Booth is challenging incumbent Frank Jewell. Former state legislator Tom Rukavina and Christina Hujanen are fighting for the District Four seat.

  • Duluth City Council Approves Maximum Tax Levy Increase

    Duluth City councilors voted 5-4 to approve a maximum tax levy increase for 2015, but not without making some changes first. 

  • City Councilor Joins Growing Field Vying for Superior Mayor

    City Councilor Mike Herrick made the official announcement on Monday night. He says his campaign will focus on continuing to grow the city, keeping young people in the city, and making Superior more business-friendly. 

 
Advertisement