Nov 30, 2012

Castle Doctrine; How Many Times Can I Shoot?

You'll never meet two cuter kids than Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady Schaeffel, 17, cousins who personify the American ideal of wholesome good looks. They could do Pepsodent ads.

You'll also never meet a 64-year-old retired government security geek who looks more ominous than Byron Smith. He's the guy who shot them. And shot and shot.

Haile and Nick could easily have been featured in a happy 1940s Ronald Reagan/June Allyson movie. Unfortunately, they seemed to enjoy burglarizing other folks' homes.

Every media outlet in America lusts for a piece of this story, lots of drama plus a segue into another Castle Doctrine shouting match.

It happened Thanksgiving Day. Byron says he was tinkering in his basement shop when Nick came down the stairs, either unarmed or carrying a piece of pipe.  So Byron shot him, dropped, him, and fired a finisher.

Then came Haile. And the second most bizarre fact -- if fact it be -- of the tale.

Smith said he sat down in a chair when Kifer started walking down the steps. Smith shot her and she also fell down the stairs. He tried to shoot her a second time, but his rifle* jammed. When the gun jammed, Kifer laughed at him, fueling his anger...

(He then used his  ".22 revolver" to silence her misplaced sense of humor.)

"If you're trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again," he told police.

Most bizarre: He let the bodies season for 24 hours before deciding to ask a neighbor to call the cops who booked him for Murder Two.

It's going to be hard to find a hero in this one.


The dead thugs made the overriding error.  All they had to do to stay alive on Thanksgiving Day was to decline to invade that home.   No burglary, no funeral,  no anguished families.

And Shooter Smith is not destined to become the poster boy for libertarian self-defense principles. He was conceptually within that framework when he raised the rifle against threat  and shot until the young man fell helpless.  Likewise, there's no argument against his stopping the girl's advance. But:

Smith told police he then shot Kifer "more times than I needed to" in the chest, leaving her gasping for air. He ended her suffering with a "good, clean finishing shot" under her chin. 

He probably blew his Castle Doctrine protections somewhere amidst the gunfire, but if not then, later when he told the authorities he "wanted them dead."

Good gawdamighty.  Was there ever a more compelling example of the need to shut your stupid mouth and hire a lawyer to do your talking for you?

There's a lot more to be sorted out, and the accused finally got a lawyer, a man we rather assume is trying hard to recall everything he ever read about the diminished responsibility defense.


*A Mini-14, according to my private spook in the MSM.


DanH said...

I'm not sure how many times I can shoot someone in that situation, but I'm fairly certain the answer is not as many as he did.

Jim said...

The guy confused a principle or two. He had a moral and legal right to stop the threats. He had no legal right to punish.

Summary justice by a victim has a real emotional appeal, but our body politic generally forbids it. I think this gets too little emphasis in many of our discussions of self-defense.

Anonymous said...

In Texas,at least, you can use deadly force necessary to remove or stop the threat. Translated, when the doofus is on the ground, you cannot continue to take practice shots. As for the shooter's other sins, I feel for his defense counsel. JAGSC

Tam said...

Bonus: The finishing shot on the girl apparently came after he had shot her to the ground and dragged the body off to his makeshift morgue. Then he capped her again.

I would not be entirely averse to making a meat windchime out of the guy, purely as an object lesson to the "finish 'em off and drag 'em inside" legal advice types on internet gun forums. You know, the ones who can't even spell "evidence tampering" or "forensics".

Jim said...

Years ago, in taking my only official CCW class, I felt sorry for the instructor, a deputy sheriff. He spent an inordinate amount of time explaining to two guys in a class of about 20 that the right to defend yourself does not include the right to punish -- no matter how angry you are.