Thanksgiving Day 2012 in Little Falls, Minnesota…
64 year old Byron Smith had been the victim of several home invasions in the latter part of 2012. Finally, he had enough. He installed a security system and took to carrying a loaded gun with him around the house at all times.
In earlier burglaries, thieves had stolen money, a watch belonging to Byron’s father and Byron’s military awards.
Byron was retired from the U.S. State Department where he had been a security engineering officer.
On November 22, 2012, Byron set a trap. He moved his car several blocks away from his home and came in through the back door. He wanted the house to look empty.
18 year old Haile Kifer and her 17 year old cousin, Nicholas Brady took the bait. They broke into Byron’s home. It was their second burglary that day, but it would be their last.
After seeing the teens casing his home on surveillance cameras, Byron took 2 guns down to the basement and waited for Haile and Nicholas to strike.
Byron turned on a tape recorder for evidence. After several minutes, Nicholas made his way down to the basement. Byron shot him twice. He fell to the bottom of the stairs where he was shot again in the face, killing him.
10 minutes later, Haile came down to check on Nicholas. Byron shot her multiple times in the chest before his gun jammed. He drug her body to where Nicholas lay dead and shot Haile under the chin. The last shot was fatal.
Byron wrapped the bodies in a tarp and left them in his basement until the next day. He told the police that he hadn’t wanted to bother them on Thanksgiving.
In fact, Byron never called the police. He can be heard on the audio recording practicing what he would say to police and his lawyer when he was caught. He was recorded saying to himself that he had “done his civic duty” and that he saw the teens “as vermin.”
The day after the killings, he called a neighbor to tell him that he had solved the crime problem in the neighborhood. Alarmed, the neighbor called the police.
When police arrived at Byron’s home, he showed them where his window had been broken before taking officers downstairs to where the two dead bodies lay in his basement.
Byron was arrested. The state of Minnesota has laws that protect homeowners who shoot intruders. They are called Castle Laws. These laws only protect reasonable force. They would have protected Byron had he stopped after the first few shots, but it was clear to the court that this was a murder fueled by anger about the earlier break ins.
Byron was found guilty of 2 counts of first degree murder with premeditation in 2014. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Byron appealed to the Supreme Court saying that he was not given a fair trial. He claimed that his defense attorneys were not allowed to present evidence that would have helped his case and that expert witnesses were prohibited from testifying in his defense.
His sentence was upheld and he was further ordered to pay restitution to the victims’ families. This amounted to approximately $19,500.
The audio recorded on the day of the murders can be heard here:
A video summary of this week’s post can be found at