Minnesota man charged with murder

| November 27, 2012 | 52 Comments

According to NBC, Byron David Smith of Little Falls, Minnesota killed two people who broke into his house on Thanksgiving Day;

In the criminal complaint, Smith said he was in the basement of his remote home about 10 miles southwest of Little Falls when he heard a window breaking upstairs, followed by footsteps that eventually approached the basement stairwell. Fearful after several break-ins, according to the complaint, Smith said he fired when Brady came into view from the waist down.

After the teen fell down the stairs, Smith said he shot him in the face as he lay on the floor.

Smith then dragged Brady into his basement, then Brady’s accomplice, Haile Kifer, 18, came into the basement and Smith shot her. He tried to administer the coup de grâce to Kifer, but his Mini-14 jammed. She laughed at him, so he retrieve another weapon and placed the barrel in her chin and fired.

According to Fox News, Smith is being charged with murder and is being held on $2 million bail. Smith says he’s been robbed by burglars in the past and lost a considerable amount of property. And, oh, he waited a day before he called police.

While I sympathize with Smith and agree that he had good reason to shoot the first time, but when the threat was neutralized, he became responsible for the subsequent rounds. And it looks like Minnesota intends to make him responsible. I’ll probably get criticized for it, and that’s never happened before here, has it? I don’t think he had a right to execute the two teens. They probably deserved it, though.

Category: Guns

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  1. MikeD says:

    “And, oh, he waited a day before he called police.”

    Well that pretty much closes the book for me. We have his word that they broke in. For all we know (though I doubt it) he picked up two kids off the street, took them into his basement and murdered them. As I said, I think that’s unlikely, but given that he took a day to get his story straight… it makes him look suspicious. But the fact that he went for a second weapon to finish off a disabled intruder (i.e. he felt safe enough to leave her there so he could get another weapon) and executed her, I don’t need to suspect his story… he’s convicted himself right there. best case he could hope for (from me at least) is Murder 2.

  2. James says:

    Nah, you can’t do that. But holy cow what burglar keeps coming after hearing shots, then laughs after being shot and is obviously going to get it.

  3. USAFcop says:

    Agreed. I think he went a little overboard with the double taps. I really don’t think he will win that argument, but I am curious to see how it will turn out.

  4. Eric says:

    The local MN blogger spin on this–pretty much a textbook case of what NOT to do.

    http://www.shotinthedark.info/wp/?p=32070

  5. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Ah … not exactly how it is done!

    Mr. Smith has some splaining to do.

    Guilty of Murder – 2 Counts.

  6. OldSoldier54 says:

    He’s hosed. I could care less about all the rest, but waiting a day?

    So yeah, unless he’s lying (a real possibility) he hosed himself.

  7. Redacted1775 says:

    Looks like he got a bit carried away with the extra shots once the perps were down. Definetly murder. It’s entirely understandable to get as much lead into a suspect as possible, but down is down, anything after that is excessive force.

  8. Twist says:

    You shoot until the threat is neutralized and then you stop shooting. If you didn’t kill them then that is your fault for being a shitty shot. The moment you finish off a helpless attacker you become a murderer IMHO. If any one of us would have done that in Afghanistan we would be making national headlines.

  9. RunPatRun says:

    Suspect gun control advocates will use this to their advantage (or try to), even though Smith’s actions are exactly what not to do. I personally think the guy is fruit loops.

  10. BCousins says:

    Doesn’t he own a shovel. I’m just sayin’.

  11. Hondo says:

    Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’ll shed no tears for the two dead perps.

    But Smith’s second shot in each case was going way over the line. He’s toast.

  12. Derpy says:

    From Eric’s link above:

    “Smith attempted to shoot her again, but his rifle jammed, prompting Kifer to laugh.”

    “Upset, Smith, pulled out a revolver he had on him and shot her “more times than I needed to” in the chest, he said.”

    “Smith dragged Kifer next to Brady as she gasped for her life. He pressed the revolver’s barrel under her chin and pulled the trigger in what he described as a “good, clean finishing shot” that was meant to end her suffering.”

    This dude has some freakin’ issues.

  13. Old Trooper says:

    @12: Issues? I would go with batshit crazy. As a resident of Minnesota, I can tell you we don’t have the castle doctrine here, but if someone is threatening you in your own home, you have the right to defend yourself. This chucklehead went so way over the line of defending himself that you can’t even see the line. Murder, plain and simple.

  14. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    @ 10 BCousins.

    Mr. Smith got to the fork in the road and based on the circumstances … took the wrong prong!

  15. ex af says:

    Well in war this would be a war crime.

    Its Murder 2. Could be upped to one, will have to depend on all the CSI work on bloodstains and where the rounds went and all that.

    I have a lot of problem with her coming down after the shot(s). And laughing after being hit? Something is really fishy. I’m wondering if there is evidence of a break in. Sounds like a gun nut who wanted to play Rambo or Charles Bronson the first chance he could get. As an alternate scenario, he lures them in, suggests something that she laughs at, then he opens up.

    I hope he’s denied bail.

  16. Reaperman says:

    Sounds like there’s really one witness to this story, and more than a bit of it sounds fishy. You’d think that he would have come up with better one after a day to think about it.

  17. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    A couple of things. According to the NBC report, he had suffered eight prior burglars and had lost thousands of dollars in cash and goods to the burglars. The reporter checked the public records and learned that a burglary had been reported there on 27 October. Another report, from August, shielded the identity of the thieves because of their ages. So, this guy was a serial victim who was probably frustrated and ticked beyond belief. And who (I ask rhetorically) called the police and gave all of the information that was reported? So, yeah, he lost it and if he’s telling the truth he executed the two cruelly and unnecessarily. But, still, I feel sorry for the guy. He is over 60 and no mention is made of his having a prior record. My guess is none was mentioned because there is none. He just reached his breaking point and broke. Now there’s a FB page top commemorate the “teens.” Oh well, I guess the world just lost two budding scientists or brain surgeons.

  18. Cajun Up North says:

    I live in Minnesota now, but where I come from, high-school girls don’t menace old men…quite the opposite is true. To be honest, I don’t buy any part of this story. Two fresh-faced non-threatening upper-midwestern teens? I’m more afraid of Mormon missionaries!

  19. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    Hey Cajun. We all ready have an Up North here. Don’t confuse me!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Her laughing after being shot at sounds fishy to me, unless toxicology tests show she was on some heavy-ass stuff. Yes, a psychological break at seeing her friend dead and being shot at is possible, but 99 times out of 100, fight-or-flight gets kicked in under those circumstances – she’d be beating him down or running like hell. Most likely the latter.

  21. Beretverde says:

    Definitely a nutjob… or nutjobs (all of them).

  22. RedLeg JO says:

    Murder plain and simple. hell what he did would be murder in combat. I do feel sorry for the victims, yes if his story is true (i have my doubts) they were committing a crime. But burglary is not a capital crime and from what is sounds like they were not threatening him and yes he has the right to defend his property. sounds to me like 2 kids made a really really bad call but as far a crimes committed by teenagers burglary is really not that bad by comparison and they did not deserve to be executed. I hope they throw the book at this guy.

  23. Cajun says:

    Roger, 2-17!

    @20: Strongly concur! The local news stations are all trying to make this a home defense issue. All they talked about last night was the (lack of) Castle Doctrine up here, they even brought on a finger-wagging CCW instructor to remind people about MN’s draconian self-defense laws.(Twin Cities local news).

    Maybe this is just the Bible-Thumpin sensationalists I grew up around talking, but this has botched abduction written all over it.

  24. Nik says:

    “While I sympathize with Smith and agree that he had good reason to shoot the first time, but when the threat was neutralized, he became responsible for the subsequent rounds.”

    Interestingly, this part didn’t bother me so much.

    I’ve been told, by law enforcement types, that if I’m going to shoot at an intruder, to keep firing till they’re dead. They said that it’s very tough to prove you were in fear of losing your life if you don’t. You have to show you were in such terror that you had to keep firing and firing and firing.

    It may be that the advice I was given was wrong, but that’s what I’ve been told.

    Now that said, the posing the body near her accomplice puts the lie to the idea he was in fear. After dragging her to the other perp, and then putting a bullet in her brain housing group…bad. Waiting a day to call the cops…bad juju. Her laughing? Possible, depending on the results of the tox screen.

    I have my doubts about the veracity of his story.

  25. PALADIN says:

    Gotta agree, he neutralized both and both were incapacitated
    and were no longer a threat, so he is guilty of murder.
    Waiting a day to call the Sheriff is what will convict him and send him to the “Hoosegow” as they say in the Viking State.

  26. jonp says:

    Ok, here’s the real story: He saw the girls walking by and invited them in. Gave them some dope of some type and as they were tripping he propositioned them. They laughed at his old ass so he shot one. The other one begged for her life but she was the ugly one of the two (the good looking ones always have a fat ugly chick with them) so he shot her too. He finished off the drugs and took a day to come down. Realized he was in deep shit and made up the breaking in story on the fly to try and salvage something as he remembered he had loaned his shovel to his cousin.

  27. Tman says:

    More holes to this story than swiss cheese.

    At any rate sounds like cold blooded murder to me at a certain point, and hardly an example of justifiable homicide in the name of home defense.

  28. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    @ 24 Nik

    “I’ve been told, by law enforcement types, that if I’m going to shoot at an intruder, to keep firing till they’re dead. They said that it’s very tough to prove you were in fear of losing your life if you don’t. You have to show you were in such terror that you had to keep firing and firing and firing.”

    This is not what we LEO’s are taught!

    Stopping and/or eliminating the threat is what we are taught to do, only when authorized and/or justifeid.

  29. Cajun says:

    This guy’s story= home defense stolen valor

  30. DaveO says:

    Great. Another jackass who gets 3 hots and a cot for the rest of his life for free.

    And here I thought I could retire at 80.

  31. Nik says:

    @28

    I believe you. Just wish I knew why I’d been told that. More than once, actually.

  32. Someone above sympathized with his being “over 60″. I am over 60, even way over, but that is no excuse. I am as liable for all my acts today as I was at 20, 30, 40,,,
    There has to be lots about this that we can only imagine. As previously stated, several times, when they’re down, they’re down.

  33. NHSparky says:

    he retrieved another weapon and placed the barrel in her chin and fired.

    If that isn’t murder, I don’t know what it is.

  34. streetsweeper says:

    He is *toast*…

  35. Old Trooper says:

    @22: They didn’t deserve to die, but they also didn’t need to break into his house and he didn’t deserve to have his house broken in to for the 9th time, either. IOW; if you don’t want to get shot and possibly killed, don’t go breaking into houses.

    In the reports I have read and listened to, she may have been someone that younger kids “looked up to”, but it was admitted that she had a substance abuse problem, so I posit that she and her cousin broke into the house either looking for money for drugs, or looking for drugs. They didn’t elaborate on which “substance” she was abusing, but knowing the location, I would guess either hillbilly heroin (oxy) or meth, which, if she were tweaking, would explain her laughing at the rifle jamming after getting shot.

  36. When I trained civilians to shoot, I explained that they also could only use the force needed to stop the threat…not shoot when the suspect was no longer a threat. This guy sounds like he went a little retard…

  37. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    As for her laughing, before being retired by Tempe Fire, we ran a call on a man shot by Tempe PD. He was on something and was still walking after having been shot in both thighs and his lower torso! So much for Glock 9mm’s.

    This whole story stinks worse than week old tuna fish! If he neutralized the threat he should’ve called PD/EMS and let them take care of rest. IMHO he executed the two two teens.

  38. UpNorth says:

    Thanks for not confusing everyone, Cajun, including me. Nice to meet you.
    As for this moron, gotta go along with MCPO and CI RD, we’re taught to stop the threat, not keep shooting when they’re down and incapacitated.
    And, Old Trooper is correct, sounds like she was on Oxy, or meth.

  39. B Woodman says:

    IF his basic story is true (the breakin), then he forgot or didn’t know to practice the four S’s:
    Suppressor
    Shoot
    Shovel
    Silence.

    Call me names. But anyone who breaks into other people’s houses deserves whatever they get – up to and including violent death.

  40. Cajun says:

    My Apologies for said confusion.

    I guess we are all slaves to experience and the possibility that the two were substance abusers was an afterthought to me. Down home, I recall several cases with killers and victims of similar ages (victims included two classmates and friends)…none of these were self defense.

  41. Scubasteve says:

    @39, To an extent. If that violent death is from getting shot in the knee on the way down the stairs, falling, landing on a pitchfork face first, then rolling over onto the furnace and burning before you can be pulled off and kicked in the nuts, then yeah, that’s a violent way to go but it wasn’t intended at the outset. Being down for the count and then executed, that’s crossing the line. I for one would rather the perp spend the rest of their waking days in a wheelchair, reflecting on and regretting their actions each time they shit themselves.

    However, if they were on something, then maybe he did need to administer the lead injection to the cranial node to stop them from fighting back. Given the fact this is reported by the media, there’s no way we have anywhere near all the details, and can do no more than armchair quarterback this.

  42. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    Yesterday I guessed that Smith had no priors or the press would have reported that immediately. Today, I read that Smith indeed has no priors. At the same time, no mention is made of whether the two burglars had priors. They’re sainted victims now so I don’t expect to hear that either was a druggie or had prior arrests. Nor do I expect to hear that neither was a druggie or that one or both had priors. Again, this guy snapped and all people are reacting to is what HE said happened. I’ll await the evidence and the psychiatric evaluation, thanks.

  43. Cajun says:

    Meanwhile, my classmates here are interning at public policy think tanks drafting the bill that will take away my right stand my ground in my home in this state… all thanks to this thrill-killing SOB

    Hell yeah, I’m gonna monday morning QB this shit!

  44. RandomNCO says:

    Shooting someone who breaks in to your house: Justified.

    Executing that person who is clearly no longer a threat (x2): Murder.

    That’s how I feel about it.

  45. NHSparky says:

    Random–I don’t think you’re going to find too many people here who disagree with that assessment, nor will you find a jury of his peers who fundamentally disagrees with you either.

  46. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @43. Remind your buds that the exception doesn’t make the rule and that there’s an axiom in law that provides, “Hard cases make bad law.”

  47. Cajun says:

    @46. My thoughts exactly. Unfortunately, the hipster hostility to guns and anything remotely self-reliant overrules any rational debate

  48. ssg says:

    Slain teenage cousins linked to an earlier Little Falls break-in?

    http://www.startribune.com/local/181119611.html?refer=y

  49. 679Prig says:

    The lesson here is…..

    …..Mini-14s are unreliable.

  50. PowerPoint Ranger says:

    The AP article says he’s retired from the State Department.

    Isn’t this the perfect opportunity for the mass media to warn everyone about the dangers of ticking time-bomb DOS employees? It’s been the standard approach for anyone that they think might be a veteran, so why not widen the net a little bit?

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