Dateline: Secrets Uncovered examines the controversial case of two teenage burglars who were killed at the hands of Minnesotan homeowner Byron David Smith in 2012.
On Thanksgiving 2012 in Little Falls, Minnesota, Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin Nicholas Brady, 17, broke into Smith’s home.
When Sheriff Department deputies arrived at the residence, they were met by Mr. Smith at the front door, who matter of factly informed them that he had just shot and killed two intruders. He then escorted the officers to the basement, where he showed them the bodies.
Smith told them that on hearing the sound of an intruder, he went to the basement and armed himself with two firearms. When the intruder came down the stairs, he fired a shot into them, after they had fallen to the ground, he admitted to firing several more shots into the body.
Smith then said he dragged the body into another room before sitting down in his chair. On hearing the approach of a second intruder, he returned to the basement and dealt with them the same as the first.
He also told police that after he’d dragged the second body into the other room, he realized they were still alive, so Smith shot them at point-blank range under the chin.
He stated that the reason he hadn’t called it in right away was that he didn’t want to bother the police on the Thanksgiving holiday.
Byron David Smith didn’t use “reasonable force”
The case provoked debate both locally and nationally as to what can be considered reasonable force when it comes to individuals defending their property.
Minnesota law states that a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one’s home or dwelling, but the level must be reasonable.
Smith claimed he used reasonable force to protect his home. However, the police and ultimately the prosecution at his trial argued that he’d set a trap for the two teenagers and then lain in wait, like a hunter waiting on prey.
He was also accused of going too far in continuing to shoot the pair after they were no longer a threat.
The most damning piece of evidence was a video recording that had been made by Smith himself, where he can be heard taunting the teens as they died.
In 2014, Smith was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
More murders in Minnesota
Daniel Lynn took the woman he was having an affair with to a farm in rural Minnesota before murdering Christina Woods and burying the mother of four in a shallow grave.
Steven Zelich, aka The Suitcase Killer, preyed on women in online chatrooms across Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 2012 he killed 19-year-old student Jenny Gamez, and in 2013 he murdered 37-year-old Laura Simonson; he left their bodies in suitcases at the side of a highway.
Dateline: Secrets Uncovered airs Friday at 8/7c on Oxygn.