Byron Smith Murder Trial Discussion 4/25/2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Good morning:

The prosecution rested its case yesterday in the Byron Smith murder trial. He is accused of ambushing two teenagers in his basement around noon and shooting them to death on Thanksgiving Day, 2012.

He claims he shot them in self-defense and to prevent them from committing a felony in his residence. Minnesota law permits a person to use deadly force under those circumstances if reasonably necessary to prevent them from killing him or inflicting grievous bodily harm or committing some other felony in his residence.

The key word is reasonable. Whenever you see that word in a legal setting, you should realize that it is referring to an objective test. That is, whether the totality of the objective facts and circumstances, as opposed to his subjective perception of them, were such that a reasonable person would have decided that it was necessary to use deadly force to prevent being killed, or suffering grievous bodily harm (i.e., serious injury), or to prevent the commission of another felony in his residence.

He must also have actually believed that he was in danger of being killed or seriously injured by the intruders or that they were going to commit a felony in his residence unless he used deadly force to prevent it.

A residential burglary cannot be the felony because it had already been committed. That is, the elements of a residential burglary are: (1) entry into a residence without permission (2) with intent to commit a crime inside, regardless whether that crime is committed. Under these circumstances, the residential burglary was completed when the kids entered Smith’s residence, if they intended to steal something.

That is the test that the jury will be instructed to apply.

If you are not familiar with this case, you can get up to date by reading my article yesterday titled, The Murder Trial of Byron Smith.

Here is a narrative description of portions of the defendant’s audio recording of the shootings. Yes, indeed. He did record what happened in the basement and even provided a running commentary of what he was doing.

The narrative description was provided by Pam Louwagie, a reporter for the Star Tribune. She tweeted as she listened to the recording being played in the courtroom on Wednesday.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
Audio of time before, during and after break-in played for jury in Byron Smith trial.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
“I realize I don’t have an appointment but I would like to see one of the lawyers here,” he says calmly before break-ins, talking to self.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
Haile’s mom puts face in hands during re-playing of audio of shootings.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
After shootings, Smith talks to himself, according to compressed audio played for jury.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
“I’m safe now,” he says. “Cute. I’m sure she thought she was a real pro.”

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
“I feel a little bit safer. Not totally safe, I’m still shaking a bit,” he says after the shootings.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
“I left my house at 11:30. They were both dead by 1,” Smith says on audio recording after the shootings.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
“I refuse to live in fear,” Smith is heard saying. Then later, “I felt like I was cleaning up a mess.”

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
Many of his utterances are in a whispery voice: “Not even like diarrhea, the worst possible mess and I was stuck in it.”

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
“I was doing my civic duty,” he says later.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
“I don’t see them as human. I see them as vermin,” Smith is heard saying.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
“fun, cool, exciting and highly profitable until somebody kills you,” he is heard saying.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
Later, he says: “I’m sorry. So much regret. I try to be a good person. I try to do what I should.”

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
And even later: “I’m a sucker. They think I’m there to take advantage of. Is that the reward for being a good person?”

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
Jury also saw Smith’s surveillance video of him moving his truck at 11:25 a.m., walking back to his house at 11:45.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
Brady approaches the house at 12:33 p.m., according to surveillance video shown to jury.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
Brady is wearing camouflage, has a hood and is seen looking into windows, trying doors.

Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie Apr 23
Brady spotted one of the surveillance cameras — hidden in a wood pile — and moved it.

If you were a juror, would you vote guilty or not guilty and why?

Feel free to go off topic if you desire.

I am not certain if the trial will continue today or resume Monday because judges often reserve Fridays to handle other business, including sentencings and hearings in other cases.

We will be following Ms. Louwagie on twitter, which you can also do.

Finally, if you appreciate what we do and have not already made a donation, please do so today.

Thank you,

Fred

97 Responses to Byron Smith Murder Trial Discussion 4/25/2014

  1. Jay says:

    Where have I said anything like that? I’ve been following this story since Thsanksgiving and I know Little Falls. I agree with you on the relevent question. Smith is going to jail. Will he be convicted of 1st degree murder? Who knows? I’ve simply been providing some of the back story.

    • Jay says:

      PS
      Smith had a device in his house which jammed cell phone transmissions. Noboby in that house was going to call the police that that day.

  2. Jay says:

    I didn’t say it was a conviction. I said that the police had noticed Nick Brady standing next to his Cousin’s car which was parked in the drive way of a home whivh was burglarized that day. Medications which had been prescribed to the owner of that house were found in Hailie’s car the day after she was killed. Haillie was also facing charges for breaking into her own sister’s house and stealing said sister’s meds.

    • Why do you believe any of that information matters.

      The two kids could have been Bonnie and Clyde and it would not have mattered because the only relevant question is whether it was reasonably necessary to finish off both unarmed kids with kill shots to their heads after he disabled them.

      Reasonably necessary means that a reasonable person would have believe it was necessary to kill both kids to prevent them from killing or wounding him or committing a felony in his house.

  3. Jay says:

    The kid’s MO seemed to be one enters the house, the other stands watch outside.
    They had almost been caught the week before. Nick Brady was outside and told the police who stopped to check him out that he’d run out of gas. The police gave him a ride into town and back. The medications that Haillie stole that day were still in her car on Thanksgiving day.

    • Crane-Station here. Question: Had the two been arrested, charged, tried and convicted, or in the alternate, had they pled guilty to charges? If so, how is it that they were out of jail, after having been convicted and sentenced, to commit yet another series of really really unspeakably horrific crimes?

      PS: “Almost been caught” is not a conviction.

  4. Jay says:

    Holidays are actually good for burglars. People travel leaving there houses unoccupied.. Nick had burglarised the house twice before. His accomplince was arrested last winter. Nick had also done work for Smith.
    He was familiar with the house.

    • Jay says:

      Their homes. Excuse me

    • ks says:

      This holidays… stuff again? Apparently most of the burgulars don’t agree. Oh well I guess it’s just going to be one of those things where people keep asserting it as true based largely on ancedotes and what they want to believe.

      Anyway, this might come as a suprise, but criminals are part of the people who travel….and whatnot. They even mostly have families and friends and actually eat Turkey and watch football on Thanksgiving like most of the rest of the people.

      • Jay says:

        KS, the kids lived in Little Falls. Their families live there. They didnt have to travel anywhere. Byron Smith is a 65 year old bachelor. Would it be unreasonable to think that HE would have been invited eto Thanksgiving dinner somewhere.? He moved his truck so that if they peered ithrough the garage window.(which Nick did) It would look like he (smith) wasn’t home. You ought to see my neighborhood during Holidays. There are many young people living there. It’s a ghost neighborhood during holidays. Good time for burglars.

      • ks says:

        @Jay, Like I said, ancedotes and what you want to believe. The simple fact is that most burgularies don’t happen on holidays. Of course you ignore that and focus on my silly snarking about traveling. Now, you can keep believing that holidays are good for burgulars, but again, I suggest you tell them that as their actions see to indicate they mostly believe, and are acting, otherwise. Shrug….

        • Jay says:

          Why are you obseesed with the Hoiday question? Obviously Smith guessed that someone would attempt a burglary on thanksgiving. and he planned for it. The lookout on Nick’s two previous buglaries was arrested and Nick would have been arrested as well had he not been killed. Hailie had prescription meds in her car which belonged to one of Smith’s neighbors who happened to be on vacation when his home was burgled, so yes there is evidence that links the two to previous burglaries. Nick and other boys
          were hired by Smith to do work around the house.Smith also let a local band rehearse in his garage. Nick was familiar with Smith’s house
          and seemed to think he could keep going back to THAT well.

          • ks says:

            Ha! Nice diversion. He just “guessed”, huh? Seems like he did a bit more than guess.

            YOU raised the holiday question and now that you can’t support it, you’re running away from it and filling this thread with your mostly irrelevant “background” chatter.

          • Why is any of that information relevant to whether it was reasonably necessary to finish off both unarmed kids with kill shots to their heads after he had ambushed and disabled them?

            They were incapable of killing or seriously wounding Smith, much less committing a felony in his house.

  5. bettykath says:

    I have been burgled twice. It provokes a negative emotion, mostly of vulnerability. I understand Smith’s fear: he was burgled many times and a shotgun was one of the things taken. Setting a trap was a reasonable thing to do. Setting a trap with video cameras to record who entered and what they did was reasonable. It would catch the burglars even if he wasn’t there and out of harms way. Setting a trap with a two guns was not reasonable, but even so, he had choices that didn’t include killing the intruders.

    As soon as the kids entered his house he should have called 911. When the boy came down the stairs he should have seen that the boy was not armed and tried to hold him. No matter, once he fired the first shot that neutralized the boy, i.e. the threat to himself no longer existed, it was time to take a deep breath and dial 911. (Where was the girl while he was shooting the boy? Didn’t she hear the shots?) When she appeared he could have tried to hold her by threat of the gun. If she ran, so what? The perceived threat to him was gone. He had one of the burglars and the police would have been able to find his accomplice/s. He chose to shoot her and, again, removed a threat.

    One shot each to neutralize the threat of two unarmed intruders could be considered protecting your property and probably legal. Another shot to either of them resulting in death was murder. Guilty of murder 1.

  6. MKX says:

    I have been to Goree Island.

    The Senegalese tell me that they cry at the thought of poor souls being taken away from their family and culture, never to return.

    And yet these mold ridden crackers like to say that black Americans should be thankful for being removed from the savagery of Africa to be given a chance at civilization in the USA.

    Slavery is reducing a human being to a commodity.

    In Jamaica, it was determined that it was more profitable to work Africans to death sweating cane than to take any costly measures to keep them alive in that the profits of their labor could by new widgets {slaves} fresh off of a ship.

    Indentured servant status of Africans was maintained during the early stages of colonization because most of the indentured were dying before their term was up. As a result, it was cheaper to “rent” short term disposable labor than to purchase durable labor help in perpetuity,

    Once the survival rate went up, the land owners had to do these things:

    A) invent a reason {white supremacy} to enslave one of the groups

    B) ban marriage between the inferior group and the rest of society

    C) deem any person with one drop of blood of the inferior group to be inferior and subject to enslavement.

    And ABC easy as 123 was not really ended by the Civil War.

    A – the white supremacist assumption of black criminality is used to justify the disproportional imprisonment of black males under the guise of the War on Drugs

    B – this one has weakened since the Civil Rights era.

    C – Obama, although demonstrably very intelligent and well read, is demeaned as a “Hafrican-American” or “Affirmative Action POTUS”.

    Ten steps forward and nine steps backward.

  7. MKX says:

    Libertarianism is just a veil for exalting private property to a status above the masses, thus making those with titles to substantial property the new nobility.

    Those, like Bundy, who buy into this see any form of property held by the “evil government” as an encroachment on what is really theirs. In their pitiful mind, property held in common for the or benefit of all citizens is an abomination and any fees paid for use will benefit those “commoners”, many of whom are black. So why not graze cattle and not pay?

    And the white vs. non-white issue is in play.

    I have read that a significant amount of private property in what are now whiteopias was taken by driving non-whites out via violence and intimidation. The “abandoned” titles were then taken over by white investors. The non-whites were then driven into urban ghettoes and subject to usurious rents from white {gee, big surprise here} slum lords.

    When one really digs into the pee brains of a Taffe or Zimmerman, it becomes clear that they are protecting their property from “those people”. The sense of entitlement felt by Zimmerman sank to anything he touched but did not pay for, thus making him similar to Bundy.

    Apparently, the rights of “those people” are held in less esteem than the rights of land, a bicycle or a lawnmower.

    The demographics of the USA are changing and tide and time wait for none.

    IMO, Bobby Bobylon touched in a fear that resides in their primal brain stem.

    That is why they engage in such stupid denials of reality such as stating slavery was so much better than what civil rights has brought.

    A mind that knows it is guilty expects retribution in this life or the next.

    Silly.

    Don’t they know that the truth will set them free?

  8. Drew says:

    Not only that, but the whole conservative gun culture and conservative culture in general is also largely to blame.

    Feel threatened? Shoot to kill!

    Wanna take my gun away or arrest me for defending “my rights”? You can’t, because I don’t believe in your laws. They don’t apply to me. Only to blacks and browns (btw I know these kids were white, so I apologize for being somewhat off topic).

    Jesus Christ, imagine if even just one fat old white man or a meathead cop was executed by a black or brown (or gay) person who claimed they were fearful that the guy was an NRA/Klansman, and should be found not guilty because they were just “defending their rights”.

  9. MKX says:

    Guilty

    He states to the girl who is moaning: “You’re dying”

    He then shoots his gun and states: “you’re dead”

    That, IMO, is an execution.

    Sure, the two he killed are criminals. But acting as judge, jury and executioner is also criminal. Do we want a man with this mentality walking free amongst us? Ask the wife of the man executed for the crime of texting in a theatre.

    Sadly, I feel he will be found not guilty.

    For our society has elevated property to a status that has more value than life.

    • Dave says:

      That might offer a clue as to why the burglars went straight to the basement. If they were responsible for the previous break-in (or knew the perpetrator) they could have been aware of something worth stealing down there (most likely guns or tools) or simply not had time to explore it on their previous visit.

      • masonblue says:

        Fair enough. But. Thanksgiving Day at noon. Nobody is at work. Even if no one is at home, people can and you have to assume they will, come home at any moment. Terrible idea to be trapped in the basement, without a quick way out. Just a thought.

        • Oops. That was me again, Crane-Station, sharing a screen. By the way, we hope to have the computer issue solved pretty soon here. Maybe in the next couple of weeks. Sorry for the inconvenience, in the meantime!

        • Dave says:

          On Thanksgiving Day at noon most people are wherever they are going to be for the better part of the afternoon, making it an ideal time for a burglary.

          • I’d make a terrible burglar, I have decided! LOL. Well, only solid things I did hear from someone who served time for cat burglary- now granted, things could have changed, this has been quite a few years ago, but anyway. Burglars do not like dogs. And, people who post those signs in the yard, identifying the type of alarm system. Too much information, for an intruder who is sophisticated. I wrote about this one time. Hmm. Let’s see. Here is the post. It is probably outdated by now, what do you think?

            https://frederickleatherman.com/2013/09/13/things-i-learned-about-crime/

          • ks says:

            Oh c’mon now, there’s been no evidence presented yet that they were responsible for the other break ins and it’s kind of absurd to posit that Thanksgiving day at noon would be an ideal time for a burglary. People are coming and going and you have no idea if they are going to be at home or traveling.

            And even buying your questionable scenario that still doesn’t justify executing then after you knew they were not a threat. It you can record yourself taking the time to taunt them as you administered the kill shots, you clearly were not in danger.

          • Dave says:

            ks, do you really think it likely that two burglaries of the same house within a month are unconnected?

            As for the timing, think for a moment. Where do people go on Thanksgiving day? Very few businesses are open on Thanksgiving. Most people have dinner with family or friends. If Smith was having the family over there would be cars parked in front of his house. Therefore it would be reasonable for a burglar to assume that Smith was either spending the afternoon at a relative’s house or attending a movie or a football game, any of which would give him plenty of time to loot the house.

          • ks says:

            @Dave,

            I see you’ve moved the goalposts. Now it’s “unconnected” which begs the point. Namely, whether they were connected or not, there’s been no evidence presented yet that the victims were responsible for any earlier robberies at the home.

            In terms of your increasingly dubious “Thanksgiving Day at noon is a perfect time for a home burglary” scenario, you should quit while you are behind. Like most bad scenarios, it relies on a strained interpretation of selective speculation and besides the point facts (like businesses being closed). More accurately, you’re simply extrapolating backwards to force fit it into your view. If the break in occurred on a random Tuesday at 2pm you’d say that that was the ideal time for a break-in.

            The reality is that the vast majority of home burglaries do not occur at noon on major national holidays. I doubt all the major holidays combined are even in the double digits % of home burglaries. But apparently you know better.

          • towerflower says:

            ks, while it might not have made it into trial testimony, the police have gone on record that they have found evidence in the boy’s car that linked them to other burglaries in the neighborhood. You can find reference to this in early news stories.

            Actually breaking into homes during holidays is not new. In my own town we had a group of teens that got caught doing just like that. They targeted homes during holidays and only caught them when they sold some of the stolen items on ebay.

            These two lived in the neighborhood and knew the vehicles of the owners and most likely some of their work habits. So it wouldn’t have been a stretch to assume that the owner went to a friend’s or family’s home for the holiday.

            Yes the owner went too far and because of him going beyond the initial threat is the very reason he is now on trial for murder.

          • ks says:

            @towerflower,

            I saw that above but that still doesn’t connect these teens with this particular homeowner (at least not yet) which is why the defense is trying to plant the “stolen shotgun in the swamp” speculation into the minds of the jury.

            I didn’t say that home break-ins during the holidays was new. You can always find the exception to the rule. I said the idea that is was the “ideal time” to commit such a crime is absurd and it is. Even if you control for the the lesser amount of holidays vs. the numbers of overall days, I seriously doubt the data would show that as most such crimes occur on normal days.

            Overall, when you look at this guy’s behavior, imo, it’s not the actions of a frightened guy sacred of break-ins. It’s the actions of an angry vigilante trying to catch, and punish, criminals.

            One big key for me was the final action after everything was said and done. The teens were caught and “punished” and laying dead in his basement and all his supposed fear was gone so what does he do? Call the cops? No, he goes and brags to the neighbor that he “solved” the break-ins in the neighborhood. C’mon now….

          • towerflower says:

            KS, As someone who lives in a neighborhood that was targeted during holidays, I don’t find the notion of breaking into a home during a holiday absurd.

            The police have a source that led them to the shotgun in the swamp. If that source, who the police know, does have a connection to the two dead teens then you can then connect the dots as them being the ones who stole the gun from his home. We don’t know what was said to the police in the matter.

            I don’t condemn the man for setting a trap within his home to catch those who were breaking into his home. I condemn him for his actions after they were no longer a threat to him. I tried once to catch some vandals who where damaging my son’s bike while he was at school. It happened no less than 5 times. The school didn’t take any action to stop it so I approached them to set up a video camera to try and catch the kid/s in action. I figured it was happening after school but I was wrong, when I showed up to start filming the damage was once again done (they were slashing his tires). Does that make me a vigilante? I guess it does, I was mad, I was tired of the vandalism, and if no one else was going to take action to stop it and make those responsible for it accountable for it than I would. The homeowner is no different, he had a right to do what he wanted in his home to protect it, where he was wrong was the extent that he took. But he didn’t need to keep shooting as they weren’t coming after him anymore, they were down and severely injured.

            We are basically on the same page here. We both agree that he should be found guilty. So yes, I agree that he was an angry homeowner—at least he wasn’t pulling a Z, patrolling the neighborhood confronting those he deemed suspicious, he set a trap within his own home, a trap that couldn’t be sprung unless one broke into his home. But I also wonder about his mental state. He said he didn’t call the cops because he didn’t want to disturb their Thanksgiving dinner and waited until the next day when he asked a neighbor for a lawyer’s name and how he took care of the break-ins. A normal thinking person wouldn’t think that way and I wonder if his age has a factor in this with some decreased mental capacity or processing.

          • J4TMinATL says:

            Dave is correct.

            I’m sorry ks. Thanksgiving is an ideal day. If is not an exception to the rule.

            Any Google search will explain that to you. Check the FBI stats.

          • ks says:

            @towerflower,

            We are mostly on the same page, but I feel like part of this conversation has veered into bizzaro world territory. Repeat – I never said that home burglaries/thefts don’t occur on major national holidays. Again, I said the notion that they were the ideal time to commit such crime is absurd and despite your experience and J4TMinATL’s wrong assertion, which I will respond to more in a minute, it’s simply not a factual claim to say that they are an ideal time to do so.

            Most such crimes do not occur on major national holidays days so how can they be the ideal time to commit those crimes? It’s simple math. There are 365 days in the year and 6 or so major national holidays. Most home burglaries don’t occur on those 6 or so days so…… It’s very statistically improbable that those those 6 or so days that are spread across the entire year, and more importantly, weather conditions, would account for the majority of those crimes. But apparently, they are the “ideal time” except for the people who actually commit the crimes. I suggest folks tell the people who are actually committing the crimes that, for the most part, they are choosing the wrong days to be criminals. They should probably also tell the cops that if they want to stop the majority of those crimes all they need to do is focus on major holidays.

            Also no I would not call your attempts to solve the vandalism/thefts vigilante actions and it’s clear you see the gigantic daylight between your actions and they guy we’re talking about here. It’s not simply a question of being angry as that in itself doesn’t make one a vigilante. Angry + your actions = not vigilante. Angry + Smith’s actions = absolute vigilante.

          • ks says:

            @J4TMinATL,

            Ah yes the famous “5 minute Google search”! : ) Also, you seem to have some sort of fuzziness as to what “exception to the rule” means. Since the overwhelming majority of such crime doesn’t occur on Thanksgiving Day, then Thanksgiving Day can not be the rule, it has to be the exception which you shouldn’t take to mean that such crime never happens on that day, it’s just not the norm.

            Anyway, you and David are still wrong. On average, most residential burglaries occur in July/August and the least in February for what should be fairly obvious reasons – warmer weather, more daylight hours (the time of day when most such crime happens), etc. There is no “FBI stat” on earth that will show you that Thanksgiving Day is the ideal day to commit such a crime. Good luck with that. I suspect you read the wiki site too fast which showed that Fall and Winter were the prime time for such crimes…..in Denmark. Heh.

          • ks says:

            @J4TMinATL,

            Oh I forgot something which should finally kill this part of the discussion. The clearance rate for home burglaries is low meaning most of the people who commit the crimes are not caught or get away with it. So since most of those crimes don’t occur on on major holidays and most of the people who commit the crimes on other days get away with then how is a major holiday, i.e. Thanksgiving, which is lower rate/frequency, the ideal time to get away with it? Right.

            What makes it even crazier is when you look at the teens in question. Apparently they might have committed other burglaries on other days and guess what? think they got away with them. But, the one they allegedly attempted to commit on one of the most “ideal days” not so much. Hmmm, but wait, Thanksgiving Day is supposedly an ideal day to commit such a crime. The one sample we are talking about disproves yours and Dave’s point! This is over, let’s move on.

  10. CS here again. All right. The tape recording was six hours, 24 minutes long.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/24/byron-smith-teens-vermin_n_5204597.html?1398362108&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

    But here is what strikes me as weird. Although I admit I actually did not come across many burglars when I was serving time, I am certain I cannot recall a single instance where someone went into a residence, and headed right to the basement. There may be a few obvious reasons for this. First of all, the basement is not the first place one would think of, to look for valuables. One would more likely scan the upper floor, the bedroom…for example. A basement is not the first place one would go, to look for money, change, credit cards, checks, cell phones, laptops, iPads, things like that, jewelry… Even if the thieves are looking for copper wiring, or tools, the basement would not be the first place to look- the garage would be. In addition, the basement is not the first place an intruder would search for pills. A bathroom would be the place. Also, a basement, at noon, on Thanksgiving Day, is not easy-in-easy-out.

    Does anyone else find this extremely odd?

    • ks says:

      Hmmmm..great points. Makes sense. You really have me thinking. Other than the horrible end, something is very off about this story.

      • Actually, on looking at the house a bit closer now, it looks like maybe they are calling the “basement” the ground level. But, at the same time, the testimony did involve descending down a set of stairs and into a basement. So, my thoughts do stand. I believe there was an actual basement…but it is hard to tell what they are referring to.

        What I am used to, a basement is an actual basement.

    • Dave says:

      Actually, guys who do serious woodworking or metalworking (with seriously valuable tools ) are more likely to have a workshop in the basement than in a garage. A basement is where a guy might have his “man cave” with a bar, musical instruments, gun safe, ammunition reloading gear, pinball machines etc. When I go to estate sales I usually head straight to the basement.

      • masonblue says:

        CS here. Thanks Dave, I would not have thought of that! When I used to visit the antique type-shops here to browse, before they closed, the ones that were like old homes, I climbed to the highest level. I guess you could say I headed for the attic. But then, I was more looking for old books and things, you know, things that would be put in an attic-type room, and forgotten! I have always had on my list to visit an estate sale, just to see what is there.

  11. CS here, again, it sort of looks like court may have adjourned for the day, because the one station gave an afternoon update, but without a LiveStream, it is a bit hard to tell.

    The journalists there are doing good though, with tweets, I think.

    It is really a different case to follow, isn’t it, when we just don’t have the discovery, to look at. Just sayin.’

  12. Afternoon Update In The Byron Smith Murder Trial
    By Ashli Gerdes April 25, 2014 3:15 PM

    Read More: Afternoon Update In The Byron Smith Murder Trial | http://wjon.com/afternoon-update-in-the-byron-smith-murder-trial/?trackback=tsmclip

    • Malisha says:

      Wow, when you read the comments on these articles you begin to feel that Americans (at least those who comment a lot) are gone mad. They’re saying things like it’s perfectly OK to set a trap for burglars and kill them outright. They’re suggesting that an intent to steal PROPERTY should be punished with instant death, no trial necessary. This is worse than Sharia law where all they would do would be to cut the thiefs’ hands off, and probably only one hand each. Why should anybody fight for American freedom if American freedom means that a child is subject to Draconian Death Sentence Justice at the hands of any armed adult at any time for any infraction? Do we need this? Why are Americans so insecure that the loss of a few dollars’ worth of their property makes them murderous? God help us.

      I could end up with NOTHING and be begging on the STREETS before I’d think that murder was a good solution to my problems.

      • ks says:

        Brilliant comment. Gets to the heart of the matter. There’s always been a strain of the type of thought in American history but now it seems to have gone viral.

  13. April 25, 2014

    A sheriff’s deputy testifying in the trial of a Minnesota man who killed two teens says Byron Smith wanted to catch the people who had been burglarizing his home.

    Morrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Jamie Luberts testified that he told Smith if he happened to catch anyone, he should call authorities immediately.

    http://www.kvrr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26382&Itemid=57

  14. Karla Hult ‏@karlahult 26m
    #ByronSmith neighbor says Smith told him “he solved the break-ins in the neighborhood,” on Nov. 23, 2012. #KARE11 pic.twitter.com/1zmLtgAkAl

    • Malisha says:

      If he solved the break-ins in the neighborhood it was his civic responsibility to immediately inform the police of everything he knew, and let them handle what to do about it. Then we’d have two kids on Juvenile detention right now awaiting disposition hearings to see if they were going to be charged or not.

  15. Well. I am not sure what will be the outcome in this case. But in general the whole system seems broken. Of course, I admit, I lost faith in it years ago, but it’s almost even more surreal now. Just a comment in general. Anyway, there’s this, in the news:

    New judge selected in Renisha McBride case

    http://www.freep.com/article/20140425/NEWS05/304250042/Decision-to-remove-judge-in-Renisha-McBride-porch-shooting-case-expected-today

    • Dave says:

      Judge Hathaway is young, white and female.She has been on the bench for a little over a year. Previously she had been an Assistant Prosecutor and before that practiced civil law. She is the daughter of two judges and the niece of a former NRA president.

  16. Does anyone happen to know- did they recess for the day?

  17. I am trying to figure this out, about the previous stolen shotgun? that the defense lawyer claims the same two kids stole one month earlier. The defense says that gun, which was found in a swamp after the kids were shot nine times, was somehow what? In the kids’ hands that day? Did I miss something? I mean, were these kids arrested, charged- what was the evidence, linking them solidly to having that shotgun, which was laying in a swamp- how did they also have it in the basement at the very same time? How did that happen. I am honest to God curious. Where is the evidence?

    • ks says:

      The defense lawyer is fishing in that swamp. I don’t think he has anything about it and is just throwing it out there for “fear factor” purposes.

      • Hmm. I don’t know what it is about this case, but it is just very very odd. For instance, if the kids were going to steal a cache of long guns, what were they going to put them in, a backpack, in the light of day at noon, on Thanksgiving, and walk out of somebody’s house, unnoticed? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Who has a tarp at-the-ready to wrap a body in? We don’t. How come the boy was wrapped, and the girl was exposed, knees bent, with a hood tied tightly around her face? Why the sexual pose?

        There is a lot missing, it seems. If the neighbor had not notified the police, I wonder how long Mr. Smith was planning to wait, to notify the police, while the girl’s exposed, knees bent “Cute” body and the boy’s wrapped body lay in the basement “workshop”- a day? Two more days? A week? How about a month?

        I don’t get it.

    • towerflower says:

      His shotgun was stolen in a previous burglary and there had been several at his home. If someone comes into a home and steals a firearm, I would have a reasonable fear that the firearm would then be used for purposes other than legal. Could that fear be that they would come back armed with the very shotgun that they stole from him? Maybe. From what I have found an ‘unnamed’ source led the police to the shotgun one week after the killings. They did not have it with them when they broke in. The police did find evidence in the boy’s car that linked them to other burglaries in the neighborhood.

      As to the tarp…..I found reference he was also a Boy Scout leader and as such a tarp would not be unusual since you use tarps for many reasons in the Scouts…..one being, placing it under your tent. I have several for this reason and also for hurricanes in case there is any roof damage. I even carry a tarp in my truck. So having a tarp available…..well….I don’t find it overly suspicious.

      I know my opinion is not popular, I feel he had a right to defend his home and self but I also do not agree that he had a right to continually shoot to kill, for that reason he should be found guilty.

      • masonblue says:

        CS here, thank you for clarifying on the tarp!

      • ks says:

        To be fair, I don’t thinking anybody is saying he didn’t have the right to defend himself. But when you set a trap for someone and then summarily execute them after you’ve caught and disabled them you, while you were the victim of a break-in, you’re also a murderer. Especially when you record yourself doing the latter.

    • Jay says:

      an accomplice was arrested lst year. He’s the source. He stood watch in the driveway while NB burgled Smith’s house

  18. Jonathan Malat ‏@jonathanmalat 8m
    Lunch recess ended #ByronSmith trial, Prosecution, defense in judge’s chambers for last 20mins. @kare11 pic.twitter.com/aKh7DbooHb

  19. Two sides to a story says:

    He could have scared the teens out, did not have to shoot them. And he did so in a way that caused undue suffering, not to mention referring to them as vermin.

    Guilty, guilty, guilty. If our state justice systems allow people to act as police, judge, jury and firing squad all rolled into one, we’re in deep doo-doo.

  20. towerflower says:

    Yes he did set a trap, a trap within the confines of his home. It wasn’t a trap outside of the home. The teens broke into the home and just didn’t wander in. When the teens broke into the home he had a right to defend himself……..BUT……..he took it too far, it is one thing to defend your home and self but he took it beyond that with his comments and actions, showing that he wanted to make sure that he killed them. The recording he made will be his downfall.

  21. Absolutely guilty of first degree murder. In some of his audio-taped ramblings his words are vindictive and, at times, gleeful. Burglary does not carry a death penalty.

    He’s a psychopath who spent his resources on planning a murder rather than protecting himself and his belongings (alarm system, secure doors and windows).

    A normal person takes no pleasure in killing someone even when it’s necessary; in this case, it wasn’t. A normal person calls police as soon as they can (he never did; a neighbor do so the next day). He admitted to taking the “kill shot,” which was administered at point-blank range and in at least one instance, to the face. He called a dying girl a bitch.

    Now, he needs to go to prison. He appears more dangerous than the criminal teenagers ever were.

    And I also wonder how he could be so “lucky” as to wait such a short period of time for the burglars to show up …

  22. While in my mind he has every right to protect his home, including setting a trap, moving the car, laying in wait in his basement, etc. those final shots to the head are rough. He’s guilty of something there according to the statute.

    I, myself would like to think that under those circumstances, when I so clearly I had incapacitated the criminals, I’d have more mercy and reverence for those two quivering near dead criminals than he did.

    • Malisha says:

      And they were not just “two quivering near-dead criminals”; they were also:
      (a) Two Americans;
      (b) Two children;
      (c) Two human beings;
      and
      (d) Two alleged criminals who had not yet been convicted of any crime (and if they would have been convicted, it would have been of juvenile non-violent offenses)

      Feel like defending your home? Defend your whole home: your residence, your property, your society, your country (and its laws) your humanity. You are part of a whole. You don’t get to do away with humans because YOU consider them vermin.

      • Malisha 😉 We finally disagree on some things! However if you break into my home your a criminal to me and have forfeited your protections under the law as you have disregarded mine.

        That doesn’t make you vermin or subhuman to me, it makes it worse, it makes it completely human, a much more frightening prospect.

        • ks says:

          I’m sorry but that’s nonsense. It may be somewhat understandable nonsense but, it’s still a bit much. One doesn’t “forfeit their protections under the law” (whatever that means) even in the comission of a criminal act nor, in the circumstance you describe, would yours be disregarded. The homeowner had a right of self defense but he didn’t have a right to murder.

          The homeowner in question here may beat the rap but, imo, he’s clearly guilty of murder. Putting aside the rather remarkable timing of his staging the scene and the break in (within minutes!), the guy recorded himself gleefully killing the kids after he knew they were clearly incapacitated.

          • ks says:

            #? How cute. Please. Even a cop can’t summarily execute a person he catches committing a crime after he has subdued them but you somehow imagine that a person breaking into a home has “forfeited their protections under the law” and can be murdered after they’ve been subduded? #Kill shot.

        • Malisha says:

          Backatcha, 😀 HamRE.

          As to forfeiting protection under law, actually our law doesn’t let us forfeit them ever, right up until the actual execution of a death-row inmate at the exact TIME OF DAY that the death warrant states. So if I want to kill a death-row inmate ON HIS WALK to the chamber, and he has 17 minutes left to live by the letter of the death warrant, I unconstitutionally, and CRIMINALLY, deprive him of his residual LIFE INTEREST (those perhaps precious 17 minutes that are his — not mine — to have and use) without due process of laws.

          So Smith was within HIS rights to forcibly stop those kids from harming him or doing what he disallowed on his property; he was within his rights to even HURT them if they refused to stop when threatened or restrained; but he was way way way OUTSIDE his rights to decide that they had NO remaining rights because they were on his precious property.

          Are we going to have to rewrite all the laws of the country to say that you can take self-defense or presumed defense of self’s property to just this point and not to a point farther? Can a guy just see somebody, feel aggrieved, accost a guy (thug or not-thug), cause some defensive movements that he then interprets as danger signals, and finally go off into killer mode to save himself from whatever he fears?

          Smith should have put: HOMEOWNER ARMED AND DANGEROUS; ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK on every door and window of his home if he was that terrified. Either that or take a damn “calm-down-asshole” pill. But you don’t get to decide somebody who has violated your property rights or even your security rights forfeits all their human rights IN YOUR SOLE DISCRETION.

          Think of it. I’m a woman. Let’s say I put on some (I imagine) seductive clothing and carry a gun out for a walk somewhere at midnight. I could kill just about any-damn-body who approached me and later say, “I was afraid of rape.”

          What kind of world do we want to live in?

        • Two sides to a story says:

          Well, HRE, at least we know you may end up in jail in a similar scenario. Good luck to ya.

          • Hi 2 sides. Always a fan of your posts! Good to disagree & passionately go at it. There is just one point in our dialogue that I’d like to comment on, it’s the ‘we know..’ thing.

            There is no ‘we know..’ cabal. The concept of some faceless majority shunning & agreeing in concert is just not true (I hope). It’s a ruse that’s been used against every group. Gay’s (we know your gay), African Americans (we know what those people will do if they move next store) Women in the workplace (we know she got the job because..) Jews, Muslims, Handicapped folks, (add your group here.) My point is that theses invisible armies live in the minds of people long after the statement is made, it’s harmful IMO.

            I’m equally as guilty of using old colloquialisms that should not be used anymore. Just thought this would be a good discussion on language, mine included 😉 Have a great Sunday .

    • Two sides to a story says:

      At least you’d have that mercy.

      I see no reason whatsoever to harm someone in my home over mere property. It would be different if attacked.

  23. Brian Whitis says:

    Not Guilty! He may not be a nice person, but when someone breaks into your house, you ARE in danger. You don’t know if they are armed or will arm themselves with something from your house. Just because he was waiting on a criminal to break in doesn’t make him guilty, we hire private security all of the time to wait on criminals to break into places. Since several of the shots would have killed the criminals, according to the coroner, it doesn’t matter that he kept shooting.

  24. Oops, very sorry you guys, did not mean to overlook Ms Louwagie, @pamlouwgie. Here she is also, live tweeting:

    Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie 12m
    Defense questioned sheriff about unnamed person leading him to a shotgun stolen from Smith’s house. Gun was found in a swamp.

    Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie 13m
    Defense finished questioning of sheriff’s deputy this morning about prior break-ins.

    Pam Louwagie ‏@pamlouwagie 14m
    Byron Smith trial court in recess until 1 p.m., when next defense witness will be available.

    So, court is in recess until 1 PM. Little Falls, MN is on CDT. Here is the current time:

    http://24timezones.com/usa_time/mn_morrison/little_falls.htm

  25. Jonathan Malat ‏@jonathanmalat 17m
    Morrison Cty Sheriff: Found #ByronSmith stolen shotgun (taken Oct. 27) in swampy area Belview Township on Nov. 29, 2012. #KARE11

    Okay, so that seems to be the awesome journalist tweeting this morning, really cool to have that. Again, the prosecution has rested, and the defense is calling witnesses.

  26. Please note: Jonathan Malat is tweeting from @jonathanmalat

  27. Crane-Station here. Good morning everyone. Reporter Jonathan Malat, a photojournalist in Minneapolis- St. Paul is tweeting this morning.

    Jonathan Malat ‏@jonathanmalat 1h
    #ByronSmith enters courtroom on Day 5 of trial. Courtroom is at capacity. No public seating available @kare11 pic.twitter.com/PeV9q46JKl

  28. Malisha says:

    Guilty.

    The teen-agers were probably committing a crime; certainly it looks that way. But I find it a little peculiar that the timing of the crime is so TV-perfect. HE feels unsafe and HE sets up a come-uppance in case somebody robs him or invades his home and just a few minutes after he gets the stage set, voila, two unarmed home invaders show up? Uh…really? Was he being robbed and burgled daily or weekly for a long time? Were there repeated police reports and failure to prosecute or failure to investigate crimes against him? This thing is too “simple” for my taste.

    BUT, whether he was really afraid or not really afraid, he INTENDED to kill them and he killed them while he was not in any reasonable fear. “to prevent them from committing a felony in his home” presumes a LOT. It presumes, for instance:

    (a) That they were not themselves just running from some danger;
    (b) That they had not actually made some sort of weird arrangement to be there at that time; and/or
    (c) That there was not some other circumstance we do not know about and cannot figure out from the remaining evidence (since, obviously, testamentary evidence from the two teen-agers is now unobtainable).

    THUS, Smith could have prevented them from committing a felony in his home by shooting only ONE of them in, for instance, a leg and then holding them both at gunpoint while calling 911.

    Also, it is a felony to arrange something illegal in your own home so there is a possibility that this guy had previous felonious intent — clearly there was a reason he did not immediately seek police assistance.

    I’m thinking about a case I knew of in Harford County, Maryland back in the early 90s. A guy in the neighborhood had a whole video set up (long before they were available in cell phones and commonplace) and would invite teen-agers in. He paid them what was good money in those days (for teen-agers) to have sex so he could film them. He also got into the “picture” himself at times if you know what I mean. But the kids would never bust him because (a) he “had something on them” and (b) they wouldn’t earn any more $$ if they did.

    Finally he got busted when a kid turned him in for forcing some kind of sex on the kid that wasn’t “in the agreement” and then they discovered all those other tapes. He only got probation! I think they took his camera away for a while.

    Anyway, this guy planned to kill these kids. I don’t care if they were committing a crime when he did so; surely they had not been CONVICTED of a crime. And they had not been read their rights.

  29. lyn says:

    Not Guilty.

    • OK, but why do you believe it’s reasonable to set an ambush in your basement and execute unarmed teenagers?

      • lyn says:

        Fred, really a fan if yours, but don’t think we can blame the spider when the flies walk into the web intentionally including breaking a window to gain access.

        • masonblue says:

          Hi lyn!
          Crane-Station here. Fred is out on an errand- something with the motorcycle chain being loose, and he should be back pretty soon anyway.

          Thank you for commenting, and I will let him know that you, and others have been commenting this afternoon!

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