April 23, 2014 -- Jurors at the murder trial of a Minnesota homeowner who fatally shot two teenagers in his home heard recordings of the man apparently telling one teen, "You're dead," and then screams from the second teen amid another barrage of gunfire.
The jurors heard the dramatic audio recordings Tuesday involving the homeowner who said he feared for his life after several previous break-ins.
Byron Smith, 65, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the slayings of cousins Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, on Thanksgiving Day 2012. The retired State Department security engineer told police that, after the repeated break-ins, he was so fearful that he installed recording devices in his house.
Glass breaking and footsteps could be heard on the recordings. According to Pam Louwagie, a reporter with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the tapes captured the moments of the fatal shootings.
“The first couple of gunshots you hear are just two loud bangs, and then you hear Nick Brady groaning,” Louwagie said.
After another bang, Smith’s voice could be heard.
“You’re dead,” he said.
“And soon after that, you can hear a tarp rustling, and it sounds like he’s dragging Nick Brady across the carpet,” Louwagie said.
Minutes later, when Kifer went into the basement, perhaps looking for Brady, Smith apparently shot her too, then quickly said, “Oh, sorry about that.”
But, prosecutors said, he didn’t stop there, firing amid Kifer’s screams.
Smith told police that while Kifer was still alive, he fired the shot that killed her, what he called “a good, clean finishing shot.”
Prosecutors stopped playing the tape after that gunshot. The courtroom was silent except for a woman holding back sobs, the newspaper reported.
Smith has pleaded not guilty.
ABC News Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams called the audio recording “devastating” to Smith’s argument that he felt threatened and was simply protecting himself.
“Minnesota law is pretty protective when you shoot someone who’s broken into your home,” Abrams said. “But shooting [Kifer] multiple times, that is tough to justify, especially in light of that recording where you hear her being shot.
“She’s still alive after the first shot," he said. "You don’t have the right to execute someone.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.