The case of the Little Falls man accused of murder for the Thanksgiving Day killing of two teenaged intruders in his home raises a similar question that wracked the nation last spring after the shooting of a black teen by a neighborhood watchman. How far can one go to protect yourself and your property?
Morrison County officials felt Byron David Smith went too far in killing Haile Kifer, 18, and her 17-year-old cousin Nicholas Brady.
The facts of the case, presented in the complaint, are horrific. The two broke into Smith's house on Thanksgiving Day, most likely intending to rob it. Smith said waited in the basement as they came down the stairs, one at a time. He shot Brady, then shot him again in the face as he lay on the floor. He then waited until Kifer came down the stairs, shot her, then shot her several more times as she lay in front of him. When she continued to gasp for air Smith told police he finished her off with a shot under the chin.
Smith has supporters who defend him and his right to defend his property. A court trial will decide if Smith was justified in the point-blank shooting of two wounded people, even people who were in the wrong place, committing a crime, or whether he went beyond the point of reasonable action.