Byron Smith Found Guilty

Over a year ago two teenagers broke into Byron Smith’s house and were shot. What made this story different from other break-in stories was the fact that the teenagers were effectively executed by Mr. Smith. Yesterday the jury ruled Mr. Smith guilty of first degree premeditated murder:

The jury of six men and six women deliberated for about three hours in deciding that fate of the 65-year-old Smith, who shot 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady after they broke into his home on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.

Smith faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutor Pete Orput hammered home the idea that Smith, 65, plotted the killings of the intruders as they descended his basement steps about 10 minutes apart on that fateful Thanksgiving Day in 2012. After repeated break-ins to his home and his adjacent property throughout that fall, Smith set up an ambush, the prosecutor argued.

His gun was loaded; he moved his truck from his garage; he got a book, food and water, as he waited at the bottom of his basement steps. All of that points to premeditation, Orput said.

Smith also had a tarp ready and quickly wrapped up Brady’s body to move it after the shooting. “Some of you hunters will think this sounds like deer hunting,” Orput said.

This is the outcome I expected and, after hearing the evidence submitted at the trial, believed was right. Some people argued that Mr. Smith shouldn’t have been found guilty. Advocates of Mr. Smith’s innocence argued that the teenagers broke into the home and a man has the right to defend his home. I agree that a person has a right to defend his home but I disagree that Mr. Smith was acting in self-defense.

In general if somebody breaks into your home you can safely assume they mean you harm. That being the case I believe it is a valid act of self-defense to use whatever means necessary to stop the threat. Any action taken after the threat has been stopped is no longer self-defense. In the case of Mr. Smith he physically moved the bodies after he shot them and then executed the girl. Moving the bodies indicated that he felt that the teenagers to no longer be a threat (because if they were a threat why would he approach them and physically move their bodies). Since he felt the threat was no longer present he had no justifiable reason to shoot the girl.

Then there is the evidence that Mr. Smith was planning on shooting somebody. He moved his truck, which would have made it appear that he wasn’t home. Additionally he had tarps ready to cover bodies. As his house had suffered a string a previous burglaries moving the truck appears to be an attempt to bait the burglars into returned. Having a tarp on hand, in addition to the other evidence, indicates that he was planning on dealing with bloody bodies. Needless to say all signs point Mr. Smith setting up a situation that he expected to result in him killing people.