A homeowner, who shot and killed two intruders, was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison. Byron Smith, age 65, is accused of killing 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer. Although Smith contends he was simply protecting his home from burglars, authorities believe the defendant went too far.
On the evening of Thanksgiving Day, 2012, Brady and Kifer broke into Smith’s home. As the teens descended into the basement, Smith shot them both dead.
As the defendant’s home was burglarized on numerous occasions, authorities believe Smith was “setting a trap.” Prosecutors noted several oddities, which indicate the killings were planned. Prior to the break-in, Smith reportedly moved his vehicle to a remote location and returned to his home on foot. Authorities believe the defendant moved the vehicle to cloak his presence inside the home.
Prosecutors said Smith was waiting in his basement with numerous guns, a tape recorder, and a plastic tarp, when the teens broke into his home. The defendant remained silent as each teen descended the stairs. He then shot Brady and Kifer multiple times, ending their lives.
The following morning, Smith confessed the shooting to a neighbor. The neighbor eventually contacted authorities.
Following an investigation of the scene, authorities charged Smith with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of second-degree murder.
Byron Smith maintains that the shooting was not premeditated. The defendant argued that he shot the intruders in defense of his property and life.
As reported by KSTP News, a jury spent three hours discussing Smith’s fate. On Tuesday, the jury ruled that Byron Smith is guilty of premeditated murder. After the verdict was read, Judge Douglas Anderson sentenced the defendant to life in prison.
Smith’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, was disappointed with the verdict:
“It’s not a fair or just verdict, but it’s the verdict the jury heard with the evidence they saw… They didn’t see all the evidence, and he is adamant about an appeal and he has every right to that appeal because there’s a lot of things the jury did not see.”
Meshbesher said Judge Anderson excluded evidence, which proved the teens had a history of criminal behavior. In addition to Smith’s home, Brady and Kifer are accused of breaking into several other homes throughout the neighborhood. As reported by KARE 11, authorities also discovered stolen prescription medication inside one of the teens’ car.
Attorney Meshbesher said Byron Smith is not a calculated killer. He said his client shot the intruders in self-defense.