Byron Smith courtesy twincities.com
Back in November, 2012 we brought you the story of Byron Smith (above), a 65-year-old Minnesota man who shot two teenagers who had broken into his home. Though the teens were there illegally, the way he killed them seemed well beyond what could reasonably be termed self-defense, and he was charged with murder. (In particular, he shot the girl in the legs with a Mini-14 as she came down the stairs into the basement, then after she fell, shot her several times in the chest with a .22 revolver, and then one final shot under her chin, which he described as “a good clean finishing shot.”) During his trial, the prosecutors argued he laid in wait . . .

with the specific intention of killing the teens, comparing the setup to the kills to a deer stand. Today, a jury took less than three hours to reject his claim of self defense and find him guilty of two counts each of first and second degree murder. He was immediately sentenced to life without parole, and his attorney said he would appeal.

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to illegally building an assault rifle [their words, put down your pitchforks]. He is the first of 20 sheriff’s officials charged or indicted since December to reach an agreement. Richard White Piquette admitted that he manufactured a Noveske Rifleworks N-4 .223-caliber rifle with an eight-inch barrel. He could be on the hook for as much as 10 years on that charge. He also admitted possessing a shotgun (Ithaca Model 37) that had been stolen from the Sheriff’s Department and three other assault weapons (a 7.62×51 FN-FAL, a 5.56×45 Daniel Defense AR-15, and a Saiga 7.62×39) with pistol grips but without bullet buttons, thus banned under California law. He was not charged for possession of those weapons, and a separate charge of possessing an unregistered SBR will be dropped. Also part of the agreement was a requirement that Piquette resign from the Sheriff’s Department, where he’s worked since 2008. The charges arose during an FBI probe of brutality and other misconduct in the county’s jail system that saw indictments handed down against 19 other individuals.

With the recent changes in Illinois law regarding concealed carry, there’s been a lot of interest in the classes required to obtain the carry permits. It’s no great surprise that much of the initial interest came from men, but according to Brian Kossof, founder and president of Concealed Carry of Illinois, that interest level has shifted rather dramatically to include a large number of women and seniors. He notes that many of the women came with a female friend or accompanied their boyfriends or husbands, but seniors frequently attend on their own, or with a younger family member like a son or daughter. He says that women and seniors seem, on average, to be less interested in actually carrying a gun, and more concerned with learning about gun laws and gun safety. It’s not so much about the everyday aspect, but about having a basic level of knowledge so that they can safely handle a gun and protect themselves should the need arise.

Colion Noir doesn’t like being profiled. I’m sure he’s not alone. I’ve noted before that just because I’m in a gun store looking at guns doesn’t mean I want to listen to the guy behind (or in front of) the counter rant about Obama or “Messcans” or anything else, for that matter. Mostly I’d just like him to get his fat carcass out of my way so I can see the shiny things.

 
Richard Ryan has a slow-motion torture test of a Samsung Gear2 Smartwatch, but instead of his customary Barrett .50, he uses a handgun with “Desert Eagle point 5-0 written on the side.”

As always, hi-res only improves the experience.

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55 Responses to Daily Digest: Snatch Edition

        • But definitely not an operator eh. and preforming a Coups de Grâce sort of throws the whole fear for your life thing right out the window. And making a self recording ugh has he never heard of stfu, if your not talking “even to yourself” your not lying. just so much FAIL with his whole story [even if was justified with prior break ins]

  1. He did a few things wrong…
    – He kept firing seemingly (based on what could be heard in his recordings) after the threat was gone.
    – The words he used while talking in his recording didn’t sound like he felt like his life was in danger.
    – He waited until the next day to call the police.

    While he may well have thought that his life was in danger and that the threat wasn’t gone when he finished off the girl, his recordings really damaged his case. Period. Even if he intentionally killed the girl I don’t think they could prove first degree murder, but Byron Smith was anything but a sympathetic defendant. I think that if he hadn’t made the recordings and he had called the police right away he would either be a free man or at worst he might have been charged with 2nd degree manslaughter.

    • He was definitely hoist by his own petard by the tape recording.

      The prosecution succeeded in getting the teens’ criminal histories excluded from testimony, including the fact that the boy had broken into this very same house at least twice before at that their car contained stolen prescription drugs at the time of the fatal break-in. Might make a difference in the appeal.

      • I’m no lawyer (fortunately, I was born human), but I don’t see how the teens’ criminal histories would change the outcome. He was judged on his own actions, which were psychotic and reprehensible. It shouldn’t matter if the burglars were seasoned criminals or Sunday school teachers – they were unarmed, and that dude went waaaay beyond anything you could call self-defense.

        • Regarding the first story above, I’ve not heard the recordings and don’t know the details of this case. However….

          There seems to be this underlying notion that we ‘good-guys’ can only have a ‘reasonable, measured’ response to the ‘bad-guys’. What bone-head made that rule? How is anyone whose home is being invaded to know the intent and capabilities of the invader? When someone breaks into your home, they aren’t exactly being reasonable. If they don’t want a bear to chew on their head, they shouldn’t waltz into his den and poke him or try to harm her cubs…. Besides, who’s to say that the bad guy won’t seize any opportunity to turn the tables on you given half a chance?

        • Soccerchainsaw,

          There is a difference between “shooting until the threat is no longer a threat” and outright torture.

          Someone breaks into my home, they will get enough lead into them to make sure they won’t do harm to me and mine. That simple. It may not be one shot, it may not be five. It will be what it will be.

          That said, once the threat is eliminated, I’m done and calling the cops. There is no reason to purposefully cripple someone and shoot them for sport.

        • “What bone-head made that rule?”

          Society. Should we declare houses free zones where you can stick reeds under burglars’ fingernails and give the girl the old what what before putting one more round in her head? I don’t think so. You may think I’m being extreme in that comparison but you’re the one who brought up ‘reasonable’.

          And don’t start with the crap realization that the burglars could have been a threat while they were bleeding out on the ground. This guy took his time, switched weapons when one jammed and then walked up to the prone (paralyzed) girl for a contact shot to the chin. Nowhere in the audio recording or in his interview did he make mention of being scared after he dropped the two.

      • Prior bad acts of the victims are usually inadmissible. Even if they should have been admitted in this case, it sounds like Mr. Smith went well over and above what would have been reasonable self-defense.

  2. I read the comments on the old story about Byron Smith, some were really unsettling. It frightens me to consider the people who wrote them are likely armed, because they are the murderous “gun nuts” that the gun grabbers love so much. It was good to see that most of the commenters have a functioning set of morals, however. I have no problem with shooting intruders, anyone uninvited in my home will find himself on the angry end of an Ithaca M37 (I can see why that cop guy stole one, I love ’em), but I may not even shoot. I cannot justify shooting someone who is unarmed and not a threat. I certainly cannot justify doing it more than once, on two different people, lying in wait to do so, and then executing someone when the initial attack (which has disabled them) fails to kill them. What he did is murder.

    • I read over those comments before I linked to the old story, and I really didn’t see any “scary” ones. Virtually all of them condemned Smith’s actions. There were a couple that weren’t so good, but they also exhibited evidence of having virtually no thought behind them, so I dismissed them out of hand.

  3. Murdering people in a basement with a Mini-14? Sounds like the old dude couldn’t decide if he wanted to be Hannibal Lechter or Hannibal Smith…

    • It couldn’t have been Hannibal Smith he was channeling, nobody ever got hit by a Mini-14 on that show. Hundreds of rounds expended and not a single scratch, worse than the NYPD.

      • Speaking of which, why is the NRA board so freaking huge? Doesn’t it have like 75 members or something? Talk about bloated bureaucracy…

  4. So a neighborhood kid breaks into your house several times, you call the police, they tell you to go pound sand, the kid breaks in again, and you punch his ticket. Hmmm… Lots of fail here, but I think the lesson here is: play with fire, get burned. The kid wouldn’t have gotten shot but for breaking into houses, and the burglary wouldn’t have happpened if the cops had done their job in the first place.

    I think the cops should consider themselves lucky the guy didn’t dial 911 and shoot the responders just to teach them a lesson.

    • True, but you still don’t get to claim self-defense for shooting an intruder execution-style, which is not a situation that constitutes an immediate threat to the shooter’s life in any sane person’s dictionary. Justice was served, and this goon deserves to rot in prison.

    • Yeah, I think I heard he even hid his car so they’d think he wasn’t home. Really, though, I have not heard whether or how often he had called the police about burglaries. I suspect there will be an appeal, we’ll be hearing about this for decades.

  5. While I do not agree with Smith`s actions which were far beyond acting in defense of his home and property, the teens he killed were not exactly outstanding citizens. The AP story downplayed the past criminal acts of these teens. Smith should go on a hunger strike to protest his sentence. There is nothing that the state DOC can do to prevent him from hunger striking unless they want to violate his Eighth Amendment rights by force feeding.

    • Sorry, but according to the law, murdering an asshole is still murder if they weren’t about to kill you or someone else. I’m fine with him going on a hunger strike just the same; starvation is a painful way to go, after all.

      • You are correct about whether their criminal history alone somehow justifies shooting them. It doesn’t, not in the least.

        But I think what Tom was driving at was that, in a play to make the man’s actions worse than they were, there is invariably an attempt to paint the killed person as a perfect little angel, and that is an injustice. It shouldn’t be relevant in the least, but somehow the media coverage tries to make the point, dishonestly if necessary.

        • I disagree with the idea that the criminal history of the deceased should not be relevant. They did engage in burglary, they were engaging in burglary, and i have no doubt that they would have engaged in burglary again.
          Now, maybe it shouldn’t be a factor in determining guilt, but it definitely should come up in the sentencing phase. The deceased made careers out of victimizing others and they got what they got.

        • C,

          I agree that the two were hardly upstanding citizens. However, revenge is not for individuals. Justice belongs to the courts. If a private citizen wants to set up an ambush in their home because they don’t believe the police have been effective, then intruders would deserve to be put to room temperature even if the intended victim had been lying in wait. I actually have no problem with that aspect.

          It’s the torture aspect that disturbs me. Do we want to empower private citizens to torture another under any circumstance? I don’t believe punishment lies in our hands. I would not kill someone as a punishment. I would kill them because they made the mistake of entering my domain without permission and made me believe they might do me harm. There is a fine line there and Smith wasn’t even close to it.

    • People seem to be under the mistaken impression that by declaring this guy guilty, society is somehow saying that the teens were innocent. That’s not the case at all! The reason the teens’ history wasn’t brought up is that it has no bearing on the case. They were LITERALLY “not the ones on trial here”. Had they survived, they would have faced their OWN trials where such past wrongdoings might have some relevance.

      As an example, suppose someone were to contact a drug dealer to arrange a purchase. When the dealer shows up, the guy ambushes him and kills him. Should the guy be allowed to get away with murder just because the dealer isn’t a pillar of the community?

    • I agree that the burglars shouldn’t be painted as angels, but I think the sentence was just fine. Serial killers have often preyed upon the dregs of society hoping for just the kind of attitude you show, that it’s not as bad to murder someone who no one cares about.

      The way this guy set up the incident, acted, talked, and recorded everything makes me think this was the most fun he’s had in years.

  6. I just took my Illinois FCCL class and according to my instructor demand is way way way down all of a sudden. That said about half my class was Seniors, but only one woman out of 12 people. Also 2 of the seniors were ex-LEO’s who did not qualify for LEOSA.

  7. Sure Byron Smith did some bad, bad things but if they had only stayed out of his house this wouldn’t have happened.

    • Or the guy refused to be a victim again….

      How was he to know that they didn’t intend to execute him?

      • Dude, stop commenting and go read the original story. He shot out the legs of the guy from underneath him as he appeared in the stairwell, and the guy fell down the stairs. Okay. Then he shot the guy in the face as he lay on the ground. O_o Then the girl showed up at the top of the stairs (not the brightest move, but whatever). He shot her legs out from underneath her. She fell down the stairs. Okay. She supposedly let out a little laugh for I have no freaking clue why, so he shot her in the chest from close range a few more times. Uuuuhhhhh… That’s all kinds of sketchtastic, but moving on. Then, he walked up to her, put his revolver under her chin, and fired a round into her brain as she lay on the ground. That’s what I like to call an execution. Later on, when he finally called the police the next day, he bragged that it was a good, clean kill to the cops. No, self-defense and home defense have long since left the station. We are very firmly in Murdertown, USA. Population: Byron Smith.

        • Don’t take lives when yours isn’t in imminent danger. Your principles might say otherwise, Jack, but I assure you the law doesn’t give a flying damn about them when it locks you up and throws away the key.

  8. Byron Smith got the sentence he deserved. It is one thing to defend oneself against armed, or at least aggressive, intrusion into one’s home. It is quite another to set a trap and willfully kill two intruders, armed or not, aggressive or not. It is difficult for anyone with a working sense of morality to imagine what was in the mind of this man. He represents an extreme fringe, but will be cited by the anti-gun crowd as a “typical” example of the mindset of those “gun nuts” blessed and encouraged by the NRA.

    Insofar as the LA County Deputy pleading guilty to manufacturing an “illegal assault rifle”..he knew better. Stealing the Ithaca Shotgun from the Department…he knew better. The other violations…well…the answer is obvious. Having to give up his job as a Sheriff and possibly going to prison for 10 years…”sucks” to have to be held accountable for your poor choices, fellah…

    Colion Noir is absolutely right that the choice to defend oneself is applies to everyone and the choice to own a gun to facilitate the first choice does not “brand” anyone in any negative way. However, many people nowadays deal exclusively in stereotypes that demonize those they oppose. Stereotypes are so convenient. They are emotional, devoid of rational thought, intellectually butt-lazy and easy for every other ill-informed, intelectually stunted cretin in the general public to understand.

    Colion Noir would be an awesome, articulate replacement for Executive Vice-President of the NRA. It would be great to hear him shred some of the anti-gun spokespeople in nationally televised debate instead of coming off as a tired old man who can only spout NRA Approved slogans and catch phrases in an unconvincing way.

    Looks like those Samsung people have some work to do to improve their Gear2 Smart Watch…

  9. While the actions of Byron Smith were reprehensible, let us not forget what set this whole series of events into motion: the burglary / robbery of Smith’s home. Smith did not seek out the confrontation. The burglars / robbers came to him. One easy way to prevent dying is to avoid breaking into the home of an armed man.

    Further, I believe the criminal records of all parties are fair game. The fact that this was not the first burglary does have relevance. Past history is an excellent indicator of future performance. For instance, a man with three prior DUI arrests is a whole lot more likely to commit DUI (barring prison time) than a man with no DUI arrests. Would it be shocking to hear that a man with 7 speeding tickets was caught with an 8th? Further, the man with multiple DUIs should intimately know the dangers of his violation – especially given the nature of DUI classes – and would be held to a more severe punishments for future violations.

    In a similar vein, the burglar / robber with prior convictions should be more aware of the dangers and moral terpitude of their crime than someone without a record. Simply put, the thieves should know better.

    I am not excusing Mr. Smith. Rather, I am acknowledging significant mitigating factors in his crime. His crime was a response to the crimes of the victims. While their deaths mean that their crimes cannot be punished, it does not mean that they did not have any part in their own demise. The sentence handed down to Smith should be adjusted accordingly.

    • Dude, no. There are a host of mitigating factors if you shoot an intruder in your home, you can even lie in wait to ambush them if you fear for your safety. However, once they’re down and the threat is neutralized, grabbing the intruder, dragging them around and continuing to pump them full of lead destroys any hope of claiming self-defense and turns the act into cold-blooded murder, and nothing about the intruder’s background will offset that in a court of law.

      We’re all gun guys here, and we should all have the common sense to know that not everyone who owns and uses them deserves to be canonized as a bloody Saint. Some things you just can’t defend.

  10. If the NRA replaced both Wayne LaPierre and Ted the-poop-pants-pedophile with Colion Noir, I might get a membership.

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