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Minnesota Man: Two Teens Shot Were ‘Vermin,’ Not Human

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. — A Minnesota man who killed two teenagers who broke into his home can be heard on an audio recording talking to himself for hours after the shooting and at one point, apparently describing the slain teens as "vermin."

Byron Smith, of Little Falls, faces first-degree premeditated murder charges in the deaths of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. Smith, 65, claimed he was defending himself and feared for his life after several break-ins at his home.

Prosecutors, though, say Smith planned the killings. They say he sat in a chair in his basement and waited for the teens to enter his home, instead of calling police. Smith waited a full day after he shot them before asking a neighbor to call the authorities.

The killings stunned this central Minnesota community 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 crossed a line when he continued to shoot the teens after they were no longer a threat.

Authorities who searched Smith's home after the killings testified Wednesday that they found an audio recorder that was turned on and an operating video surveillance system. The recorder was sitting on top of books on a bookshelf, near a chair where prosecutors say Smith waited for the teens.

In the recording, Smith can be heard breathing heavily and whispering. At one point, he said: "I don't see them as human. I see them as vermin."

The recording also captured the actual shootings, including Kifer screaming after she was shot.

— The Associated Press