Minnesota has a law similar to Stand Your Ground. Its called the Castle Law. The basics of this law is that if your home is broken into you can use force to defend it. And the Castle Law is what brings us to our next case. This is currently a case that is being heard by the jury right now so I can’t tell you at this point what the verdict is but lets go into what’s going on with the case. A man is being charged with murder for killing two teenagers who broke into his home on Thanksgiving day 2012. Did the state make the right decision in prosecuting this man? Let’s take a look at the details of the case.

Byron Smith was 64 at the time two teens Nicholas Brady (17) and Haile Kifer (18) broke into his house. Prior to the Thanksgiving Day shootings, Smith says his house had been broken into numerous times before tho only one has been reported to the police. Evidence found in Brady’s car suggests that he was involved in a burglary the night before at a retired teacher’s house and his sister states that he stole prescription drugs from her in August 2012. Now by no means are these two innocent of a felony. They broke into this man’s home. But they were unarmed and the question remains… did they deserve to die?

Approximately 12:30pm Byron Smith was sitting in his basement waiting for someone to break in. He was armed, he had energy bars, water, and a book as he sat between two shelving units waiting for something to happen. As Nicholas descended the basement stairs he was shot in the chest and then in the back which caused him to fall down the stairs. Smith then fired one more shot into Brady’s head with it passing thru his hand. This could possibly be a defensive wound as he was still alive. His body was then dragged to a tarp in the workshop so no blood would get on the carpet. As soon as Smith was done, he reloaded his rifle and went back to wait for whoever may come down next. As Haile came down the stairs looking for her cousin she was shot once with the rifle before it jammed. Smith then used his .22 to finish her off. He shot her once in the left eye and once in the left side of her head. Then when he thought he heard her gasping for air, he put the gun under her chin and shot her again. 

In his interview with police he told them that he got off “a good finishing shot up to the cranium” to make sure she was dead. He did tell police that he was afraid for his safety since his home had been broken into before but haven’t we heard that before? 

There was a recording of the whole thing. In it you can hear Smith tell Brady “you’re dead” just after he fired the shot to his face. And you hear Haile say “Oh God” after she was shot the first time and then he calls her a bitch before he shoots her in the head several times. Then he waited til the day after the shootings to notify anyone to call police. He said he didn’t want the police to have to work on Thanksgiving. As I sit here rolling my eyes I can’t help but think if he ever wondered about the family of the kids he murdered. 

As I said before these were by no means perfect little teens. They were going around burglarizing the neighborhood. They deserved to be punished but I don’t think dying was the punishment they should have gotten. This man was a former US State Department employee. He knows that things aren’t supposed to be done this way. Maybe he thought he was above the law. I think his house had been broken into and he was determined to get the person who did it. I mean there was way too much planning involved. He has a recording, he was sitting there with 2 weapons, he had a book, food, and water. The only thing I don’t understand is how long he had been sitting there and how he knew they would be coming that day. I mean yes there were break ins going on in the neighborhood however, the teacher who had their house broken into the night before was out of the country so how did he know that someone was going to come on Thanksgiving Day? Or had he been sitting there for a couple days? Or was he planning to sit there for a couple days? The state agrees with what I have said which is why he is being charged with murder. They are saying that he continued to shoot after the threat had been removed which I agree with. Once he shot them and they were incapacitated he could have called for help but he chose to execute them. The threat was removed when Nicholas put his hand over his face to shield himself from the fatal shot. And he could have stopped when his rifle jammed but he decided to use another gun to continue shooting. And in the audio recordings its clear when he said “you’re dead” and called Haile a bitch that he didn’t want to prevent a robbery, he wanted to kill them.

So what are your thoughts? Do you think he should be charged with murder or was he just protecting his castle?


2 thoughts on “Castle

  1. Plain and simple, you break into another person’s home or enter with permission….. I believe you had it coming. I would shoot, stab, slash, or just physically maim you

  2. This guy created his own personal kill zone by stashing his car and unscrewing lightbulbs which is very odd and does show premeditation. Its not a complex issue, you can use deadly force when you are in fear of your life with the castle law to neutralize the threat. When Brady is shot twice and completely incapacitated or when Haile was shot once then there is a case to argue if firing ceased there. There is no reason to shot after this to kill though. While the Brady shooting was cold and quick the shooting of Haile (who did not go in at first) was horribly protracted due to a rifle jam. Smith somehow in his deranged mind felt Haile laughed at him after being hit and seeing the jam. This cannot be heard on the disturbing audio. What can be heard is the sheer terror in Haile’s voice and the hate in Smith’s voice as he taunts her that shes dying. This is all horribly prolonged, as after the rifle jam Smith had to use his lower caliber revolver. It is horrifying to listen to, worse for me than some of the gory footage we are so used to these days as the imagination fills in the blanks. No defense could survive that footage being played in court and none will. I would be surprised actually if the case makes a successful appeal. I would personally have gone for an insanity defense. Its the best way to explain the audio and the best route for clemency through a lesser charge. This guy probably killed in Vietnam, perhaps he thought his basement was part of the next tet offensive.

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