Seven Lessons from the Byron Smith Trial

Here is an animated rendering of what happened.…n-is-not-for-the-faint-hearted-82066389639168

  • Drug addiction kills.
    • Haile Kifer and Nick Brady were certainly not saints but they were killed well after whatever threat they may have posed to Byron Smith stopped, which makes Byron Smith’s actions into murder in the eyes of the law.
    • Haile Kifer and Nick Brady were primarily motivated by their burgeoning drug habits.
      • If you know someone like Nick Brady or Haile Kifer who seems to be developing a taste for painkillers and other opiate-based narcotics, then strongly encourage them to get help or otherwise just cut them out of your life.
    • Read and educate yourself on the signs of drug addiction. 
  • Shoot to STOP THE THREAT!
  • Call 911 immediately!
    • Not immediately calling 911 after the killings made Byron Smith look VERY GUILTY.
      • Byron Smith waited over a day to call the police.
    • Bunker down and shout commands if you think there is an intruder in your house
      • Throw the burglar’s OODA loop off track.
  • Harden your house before you get burglarized
    • Burglars will hit the same place multiple times if the opportunity presents itself again.
    • Evidence indicates that Nick Brady had burglarized Byron Smith’s house at an earlier date.
    • Byron Smith did the opposite and purposely staged his house to “lure” Haile Kifer and Nick Brady inside his house.
  • Lock down all guns not purposed for home defense
    • When Byron Smith’s house was burglarized earlier, a number of firearms were stolen.
  • Don’t use a gun in a configuration of questionable reliability.
    • The reliability of a Ruger Mini-14 depends on if you are using factory magazines or third party magazines.
      •  Reports indicate that Byron Smith had a stoppage while firing the Mini-14 but the reports did not say what sort of magazine was used.
      • Home Surveillance can cut both ways

Audio from the Byron Smith Killings

The Byron David Smith killings

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On November 22 (Thanksgiving Day), 2012, Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady, 17, broke into the home of Byron David Smith in Little Falls, Minnesota. Smith, armed with a Ruger Mini-14,[1] shot the teens separately and minutes apart as they entered the basement where he was, later stating to police he was worried about them being armed. By his account to police, he shot Brady twice at the top of the basement stairs, and once in the face fatally after he fell to the bottom of the stairs. Minutes later when Kifer entered the basement, he shot her at the top of the stairs. Wounded, she fell down the stairs, and after Smith’s rifle jammed, he shot her multiple times in the chest with a .22-caliber revolver, dragged her across the floor to set her beside the body of her cousin, and then shot her fatally under the chin.[1]Smith then waited until Friday to have a neighbor call police, saying that he did not want to bother law enforcement on Thanksgiving.[1] Video and audio of the events was recorded by Smith’s security system.

Smith, 64, was retired from the U.S. State Department[2] and had a history of international travel to Moscow, Bangkok and Beijing.[3] Smith’s brother described him as a retired security engineering officer. The home had been previously burglarized multiple times according to the brother, although only one burglary had been reported to police.[4]

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel believed the teenagers were burglarizing Smith’s residence Thanksgiving Day.[3] Brady’s sister claimed Brady stole drugs from her home August 28 in a case that was still under investigation.[4] Evidence recovered from the car driven by Brady was linked to a burglary of the residence of a retired teacher the night before he and Kifer were slain by Byron Smith.[5]

Smith’s statements to police describe delivering killing shots to the heads of both victims after he had shot them on the stairs and they had fallen to the basement floor wounded.[6][7] In his statement, Smith said that Kifer had let out a short laugh after she fell down the stairs, saying “If you’re trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again.”[8] In police interviews Smith acknowledged “firing more shots than I needed to” and that he fired “a good clean finishing shot” into Kifer’s head.[9]

Analysts have said that the initial shootings would probably have been justified under Minnesota’s Castle law, but that the subsequent shots were not justified once any threat had been removed.[10] Sheriff Wetzel said that the law “doesn’t permit you to execute somebody once a threat is gone.”[11] Hamline University School of Law professor Joseph Olson: “I think the first shot is justified. After the person is no longer a threat because they’re seriously wounded, the application of self-defense is over.”[3]

Smith was initially charged with two counts of second degree murder.[6][3] In April 2013, he was indicted on two counts of first degree murder. Bail was later set at $50,000 which Smith posted. [12] On April 29, 2014, Byron David Smith was found guilty on two counts of 1st Degree Murder with premeditation and on two counts of 2nd Degree Murder after three hours of jury deliberations.[13]


See also


  1. Jump up to:a b c “Byron David Smith killed teens Haile Kifer, Nicholas Schaeffel because he feared weapons, cops say”WPTV. November 27, 2012.
  2. Jump up^ Baran, Madeleine (November 28, 2012). “Little Falls shooter protected U.S. embassies from terrorists and spies”MPR News.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d Brown, Curt. “Little Falls teen shooting deaths called ‘cold-blooded’”Star Tribune, November 27, 2012.
  4. Jump up to:a b Forliti, Amy. “Minn. man charged in teens’ slayings admits firing ‘more shots than I needed’ to stop break-in”, Associated Press, November 26, 2012.
  5. Jump up^ Powell, Joy (November 27, 2012). “Slain teenage cousins are linked to an earlier Little Falls break-in”Star Tribune. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
  6. Jump up to:a b Magan, Christopher; Lindberg, Joseph (November 26, 2012). “Little Falls man describes ‘finishing’ teenagers with shots to heads”Pioneer Press. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  7. Jump up^ “Criminal Complaint filed against Byron David Smith.” (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-26.
  8. Jump up^ Forliti, Amy (November 26, 2012). “Byron David Smith Arrested For Alleged Murder Of Haile Kifer And Nicholas Brady, Teenaged Cousins”Huffington Post.
  9. Jump up^
  10. Jump up^ Thornton, Patrick (December 7, 2012). “In Morrison County shooting case, Minnesota state law on trial”. Minnesota Lawyer. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
  11. Jump up^ Forliti, Amy (November 26, 2012). “Minn. man says he ‘fired more shots than I needed'”Associated Press.
  12. Jump up^
  13. Jump up^ “Little Falls Man Found Guilty On All Four Counts Of Murder”, CBS News Channel 4 WCCO Minnesota, 29 Apr 2014.
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Posted in Home Defense

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