On November 22, 2012, a set of chilling self-defense murders occurred in Minnesota when Byron David Smith hid in his basement while two teenager broke into his home. He lured them downstairs and shot them both at point blank range while recording the entire thing. Headlines reading, “Man Murders Teens Trespassing In His Home,” had only covered a small portion of this dense story. The facts of the Byron David Smith murder case aren’t cut and dried. The full story shows a man who believes that he was being terrorized by the future of a slowly deteriorating country. In committing a double homicide, Smith believed that he was doing his town a favor.
While there is no arguing that the teens breaking into someone's home were guilty of a crime, Smith’s actions led to a series of questions about what self-defense really means. But rather than applaud the 64-year-old retiree for cleaning up the streets of small town Minnesota, a jury swiftly voted to put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
Byron David Smith Recorded Himself Murdering Two Teens
On Thanksgiving Day in 2012, Byron David Smith set up a digital audio recorder in his basement while he sat in waiting while Haile Kifer (18) and Nicholas Brady (17) broke into his house. As they made their way downstairs, Smith shot them one by one, like a hunter in a deer blind. While Smith waited for the teens to arrive, he rehearsed what he would say when he spoke to the police, even going to so far as to pretend to ask for a lawyer. When the teens finally begin making their way to the basement where he was hiding, the recording becomes a gruesome listen.
During and directly after the murders, Smith can be plainly heard giving a monologue about how he did his "civic duty" and saying that bad people come from bad families. The most chilling part of the recording comes after Smith has already shot Kifer multiple times. Before he can fire the death blow to her head, his gun jams. Smith apologizes, checks his gun and finally puts her out of her misery.
He Waited A Full Day To Call The Cops
Smith did not call the police after he committed the double homicide in the basement of his home; he decided to wait until the next day. He reasoned that the police would be enjoying Thanksgiving with their families and didn't want to disturb them. This kind of logic speaks to the heart of Smith's crime. He thought that he was doing the world a favor by murdering these two teens and felt that the police wouldn't want to deal with something so low. After Smith compared the two slain teens to "vermin" on his recording, it's obvious he thought everyone would agree with how he handled the situation.
Smith Set A Trap To Commit Murder
Rather than try to contact the police and have them handle the case, the retiree decided to take the law into his own hands. He ended up devising a plan that would lead him on a course towards his eventual incarceration. To ensure that Kifer and Brady would break into his home on Thanksgiving, Smith had to make sure that it looked like no one was home. To do this, he moved his truck out of the area and returned to lie in wait. After making sure the house seemed empty, he snuck down to the basement where he waited for the teens to enter. In a further show of pre-meditation, he sat with with a bottle of water, energy bars, a book to pass the time, and two guns.
Smith Claimed That The Murders Were In Self-Defense
During the trial it came out that Smith not only believed that he did the right thing when he hid in his basement so he could murder two teens, but he thought he was doing it in self-defense. His claim sparked a debate about Castle Doctrine and whether Smith had overstepped the limits of defending himself. Castle Doctrine essentially says that you can act by any means necessary to defend yourself when someone breaks into your home, but if you pre-meditate a defense, things become murky.
The jury in Smith's case only took three hours to convict him of premeditated murder and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. Defense Attorney Steve Meshbesher believed that the jury only saw a myopic view of the case because they weren't allowed to hear about the deceased's prior record with the police.