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Defense requests mistrial for second day in a row in Little Falls shooting case

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. — Judge Douglas Anderson denied Byron Smith’s defense attorney’s request for a mistrial in the murder case for the second time Wednesday.

Defense counsel Adam Johnson addressed the court during a morning break following testimony from Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension forensic scientist Nathaniel Pearlson.

Pearlson testified regarding the initial processing of Smith’s home near Little Falls after the shootings on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

Johnson took issue with evidence he said was not made available to the defense including field notes, and computerized data recorded by Pearlson regarding the “muzzle to target” distance recovered from bullet fragments and bullet holes found in the clothes of teenagers Nick Brady and Haile Kifer, who were shot to death after breaking into Smith’s rural home.

“That’s a significant issue in this case,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the defense sought discovery and it was never made available to them.

Assistant state prosecutor Kurt Wartner disagreed.

“To say now, here today that they haven’t been provided the opportunity — after a year and a half — to me that’s not genuine,” Wartner said. “They have been provided the opportunity.”

Wartner noted that it is the responsibility of the state to make evidence available to the defense, but not to hand-deliver it to them. “We don’t have to carry it to them,” Wartner said. “It has been quite clearly available.”

The court noted that the reports in question were not made available to the prosecution as evidence. Only Pearlson’s final reports were submitted.

The defense requested that Pearlson’s notes be made available to them before continuing with the trial. Johnson estimated the notes compiled numbered about 100 pages.

The court took an unexpected mid-morning break to make copies of the notes for the defense after defense attorney Steven Meshbesher told the court he was not comfortable proceeding without seeing the notes first.

“I don’t know what other information is available,” he said.