Homeowner cold-bloodedly executes unarmed teens that broke into his home. Justifiable homicide or not?
THE ENQUIRER has obtained the last photos of the tragic teen victims who were ambushed and coldheartedly executed by self-styled vigilante Byron Smith in a 2012 Thanksgiving Day bloodbath.
In a chilling surveillance video, Nick Brady, 17, and his cousin Haile Kifer, 18, can be seen casing Smith’s home in Little Falls, Minn., before breaking a window to gain entrance.
Little did the unsuspecting pair know that Smith – a former security engineer for the U.S. Department of State – was waiting in his basement armed with two guns and extra ammunition.
Along with the video surveillance outside, Smith – whose home had been burglarized in the past – had also set up an audio recording system inside the house to provide evidence of a break-in. And the tape proved to be the 65-year-old’s undoing at his recent trial, as it gave a detailed account of how he cruelly taunted the teens as they lay critically wounded before finishing them off with a bullet to the head.
“(The tape) was very powerful, and it makes it very clear that…he didn’t do this because he had to. He did it because he wanted to,” noted William Mitchell College of Law professor Ted Sampsell-Jones.
The audiotape captures the sound of Nick Brady as he makes his way down the basement steps at about 12:30 p.m. Smith fires two slugs into Nick’s torso, and he can be heard groaning as Smith fires a third shot into his head and says: “You’re dead!”
At that point, Smith rolled Nick’s body onto a tarp and dragged it to a basement workshop. Later, he told investigators that he didn’t want to stain his carpet.
A few minutes later, Nick’s cousin Haile can be heard on the tape making her way down the basement stairs, whispering: “Nick?”
Another gunshot rings out, and Haile tumbles down the stairs.
“Oh, sorry about that,” Smith says sarcastically. He fires more shots, then declares: “You’re dying…bitch.”
A sixth and final blast rings out, which Smith described to police as a “good clean finishing shot to the head.”
Smith was charged with murder for the killings, and his recent trial split the tightknit town of 8,000.
Some agreed with the prosecution, which painted Smith as a vigilante who went way beyond self-defense by killing the unarmed teens even after they no longer posed a threat.
Others felt that Smith had a right to protect his property and himself with deadly force. Still, on April 29, a jury took just three hours to find him guilty of premeditated first-degree murder and second-degree murder. He now faces life behind bars without parole.
“I do think he had some fear,” said juror Wes Hatlestad. “But his reaction to it was very unreasonable.”