Fox host Sean Hannity dismissed the murder convictions of a Minnesota homeowner who used excessive force in killing two teenagers who broke into his home, claiming with exasperation, “They broke into the guy's house.”
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. From The Washington Post:
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.
After more labored breathing and another dragging sound, Smith calls her “bitch” again. He told authorities that after he moved her, he noticed she was still gasping and didn't want her to suffer, so he fired under her chin with a 22.-caliber handgun, according to a report in the Pioneer Press. The Star Tribune reported Smith told investigators the last time he fired was “a good clean finishing shot” and “she gave out the death twitch.”
After the shootings, Smith's audio device captured him calling the teenagers “vermin” and stating the “mess” he had to clean up was worse than “vomit” or “diarrhea.” He waited a day before asking his neighbor to alert police about the shooting.
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.'”
Guest Bernard McGuirk, a producer for Fox Business' Imus in the Morning, claimed that Smith should “get a Medal of Freedom for what he did. He protected himself.”