Personal Defense

Follow Up on Minnesota Shooting: Murder is Not Self-Defense (As I Said)

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.

Family photo of Byron David Smith (Renee Jones Schneider / Minneapolis Star Tribune-ZUMA Press)

Family photo of Byron David Smith (Renee Jones Schneider / Minneapolis Star Tribune-ZUMA Press)

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.




4 thoughts on “Follow Up on Minnesota Shooting: Murder is Not Self-Defense (As I Said)

  1. “already rendered harmless” ?!?!? What are you talking about? I cannot even imagine circumstances where a living, breathing, intruder – in the middle of my home in the middle of the night – could possibly be considered “harmless”.

    If you found a large snake in your basement would you check carefully to see if it was venomous, i.e., “armed”? Would you shoot it only until it was “rendered harmless”, and then desist? Without some significant herpetology background how could you reasonably conclude it was harmless, until it was head-less? Are you willing to bet your life on what you know about snakes? Did you know some of them “play dead” when threatened? So do some people.

    Ask anyone who served in Vietnam, or Iraq, or Afghanistan how often wounded and apparently unconscious combatants exploded when approached by a medic.


  2. Pingback: Significant Insight into the Liberal View of Guns from Jon Stewart | Gun Culture 2.0

  3. Pingback: Andrew Branca on the Law of Self-Defense | Gun Culture 2.0

  4. Pingback: Memo to America: You Cannot Just Shoot Someone and Claim Self-Defense (Even With Stand Your Ground Laws) | Gun Culture 2.0

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s