What you are about to hear is both disturbing and disheartening, but strangely necessary to understand how vigilantism and self-defense have become so skewed with paranoia and faux-heroism in America.
In November 2012, Byron Smith shot Minnesota teens Nick Brady and Haile Kifer (pictured above) after they broke into his home. Smith, 65, reportedly waited with energy bars and bottled water — a move prosecutors are using to dismantle his self-defense argument — shot the teens, and then proceeded to deliver a strange, whispery rant riddled with phrases about the teens being subhuman, liberal digs, and delusions of grandeur.
According to the Washington Post:
Prosecutors said during opening statements on Monday that Smith planned the killings and was waiting in his basement with loaded weapons, some energy bars and a bottle of water. Smith allegedly had the audio recorder, part of an elaborate surveillance system, running for six hours before, during and after the shootings. Smith’s attorney argued his client was terrified after several violent break-ins and he hid after he heard a window break and footsteps upstairs.
When questioned about why he had continued to shoot, Smith said he didn’t want to wait for them to pull weapons, The Star Tribune reported.
But the audio, which you can listen to below, paints a different story.
Almost immediately after the first shooting, the rustling of a tarp is heard, then a dragging sound and labored breathing. Smith said he had moved the boy’s body to a workshop in the basement to keep his blood from staining the carpet, the Associated Press reported.
The audio continues with the sound of a gun being reloaded. About 11 minutes pass between the two shootings, local reports say.
Kifer’s footsteps are heard on the stairs and she calls out quietly, “Nick?”
Then comes the sound of more shots. She falls down the stairs. “Oh, sorry about that,” Smith tells her. She screams, “Oh my God!”
Then more shots. Smith tells her, “You’re dying,” and calls her a “bitch,” the AP reported.
Here is Smith’s entire rant:
I’m safe now. Cute. I’m sure she thought she was a real pro. I feel a little bit safer. I’m totally safe. I’m still shaking a bit, but a little bit safer.
I refuse to live in fear. I am not a bleeding heart liberal.
I felt like I was cleaning up a mess. Not like spilled food. Not like vomit. Not even like diarrhea, the worst mess possible.
In some tiny little respect I was doing my civic duty. The law enforcement system wouldn’t do it, I had to do it. I had to do it.
They weren’t human. I don’t see them as human. I see them as vermin.
This bitch was going to go through her life spoiling things for other people. Stealing, robbing, drug abuse. It’s all fun, cool, exciting, and highly profitable, until someone kills you. Like I give a damn who she is? “Oh, sorry!”
I try to be a good person. I try to do what I should, be friendly to other people, help them when I can, try to be a good citizen, not cheat people, be fair. And because I’m a good person, they think I’m a patsy, I’m a sucker. They think I’m there fore them to take advantage of.
Is that the reward for being a good person? And if I gather enough evidence, they might be prosecuted. If they’re prosecuted, it might go to court. If it goes to court, they might be found guilty. And if they’re found guilty, they might spend six months, two years in jail, and then they’re out, and they need money worse than ever, and they’re filled with revenge. I cannot live a life like that. I cannot have that chewing on me for the rest of life. I cannot, I refuse to live with that level of fear in my life.
And here’s the graphic audio, which Gawker points out is hard to listen to, but “so is having the conversation about how we fix our broken, insecure, paranoid society before all of America becomes Inner America, before every man is a heavily armed island citadel.”
Smith is being tried for first-degree murder. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison. We’ll keep you updated with the latest in this case.