May 2, 2014

Is there really any justification for plotting and laying in wait to murder a couple of lawbreaking teenagers? Yes, they shouldn't have broken into Byron Smith's home, but when accumulated possessions end up meaning more than a human being, something is seriously wrong.

The killing of Haile Kifer and Nick Brady was not accidental. Smith set up a scene to make people think he wasn't home, and then waited. Media Matters:

On April 29, Minnesota resident Byron Smith was convicted on two counts each of premeditated first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17. Brady and Kifer were killed on Thanksgiving Day 2012 after breaking into Smith's home.

While homeowners have broad latitude in defending their residences from intruders, a jury believed that Smith went too far. Prosecutors compared Smith's actions on Thanksgiving Day to the setting up of a deer stand. After spotting a neighbor he believed had previously burglarized his house, Smith moved his car to make his home seem unoccupied and then waited in his basement "with a book, energy bars, a bottle of water and two guns."

Smith also set up an audio recording which captured what transpired. After breaking a window, Brady came down the basement stairs and was shot two times. Smith was then heard saying, "You're dead," before firing a third shot into his face. He then put Brady's body on a tarp and moved him to another room.

Moments later, Smith wounded and then killed Kifer execution-style with a shot under her chin.

Home defense is one thing. Putting your gun under someone's chin and pulling the trigger is something else again. NRA paranoia notwithstanding, there's a pretty big distinction between cold-blooded murder and self-defense. I'm pretty sure making your victim eat a bullet isn't self-defense.

It's irresponsible to defend this man. I don't care if they walked in and stepped toward the gun cabinet. Smith stepped far over the line of home defense and shouldn't be thought of as anything other than the cold-blooded killer he is. Here's what he said:

Sean Hannity covered the case on the April 30 edition of his Fox News program. While Hannity said he didn't like the fact that Smith had called the slain teens "vermin," he nonetheless questioned the verdict because "they broke into the guy's house." Hannity also suggested that "the judge in that case didn't give all the facts to the jury," and asked, "How could it be premeditated when they broke into his house?" When Fox's Geraldo Rivera expressed disgust at the "coup de grace" shot that killed Kifer, Hannity responded, "You know what, it's easy to say after the fact, 'I wouldn't.'"

Why would Fox News and Sean Hannity think it's a good idea to hold him up as some kind of hero? I'm pretty sure people would be repelled at the idea of that teenager putting a gun up to Byron Smith's chin and pulling the trigger. Why isn't that true in reverse?

Here's a lesson for Hannity from the late, great George Carlin. People need to learn to let go of their obsession with "stuff." If they did, those kids would still be alive and have a chance to turn their lives around.

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