Back in December 2012, shortly after taking Massad Ayoob’s MAG-40 class, “Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement,” the case of Byron David Smith of Little Falls, Minnesota was brought to my attention.
Smith is the man who on Thanksgiving Day 2012 shot and killed two individuals — Haile Kifer and Nicholas Brady — who broke into Smith’s house. He shot them both, one at a time, as they came down the stairs into his basement. He had set up in a position in the basement — lying in wait with a book, water, and energy bars — where he could shoot them as soon as he saw their hips on the stairs. It turns out he also created an audio recording of the events, in which he can be heard taunting Kifer and Brady, calling them “vermin.” Smith then waited a full day before asking a neighbor to call police.
At the time, based on my understanding of the law and the limited facts of the case available at the time, I concluded “both the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and responsible gun owners can agree that shooting to death an intruder you have already rendered harmless is a criminal act of murder. From the statements attributed to him in the criminal complaint, it seems that Byron David Smith did in fact commit murder in the name of self-defense.”
On Tuesday, April 29th, a jury took just 3 hours to convict Smith of first-degree murder. Which reminds me that those who would “rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6” had better know the law and be damn sure that a reasonable person would agree that being carried by 6 is a real possibility under those same circumstances.