Listen: Byron Smith, Haley Kafer, Murder discussed on Dateline NBC
"There are people who think Byron Smith is a hero. What do you say to that season murder? Murders can't be heroes In a sharply divided Minnesota courtroom. The prosecution argued that Byron Smith was no fearful innocent victim but an angry man bent on on violent confrontation. He told investigators from the beginning that he was sitting reading a book in the basement that he was caught unaware by any of that no not at all the prosecutor said they had evidence that it was premeditated murder they told the jury Byron had set a trap for the burglars. Colors remember the story about moving his truck to clean the garage. The prosecutor said that was a life that Byron had in fact moved the truck to make it look like he wasn't home you think Byron wanted to catch the people who had been breaking into his house. Clearly you planned you prepared. And when he was determined to kill whoever's breaking into his house and stealing his property the prosecution said Byron was in the basement not to read a book but to wait like a hunter. It's a seemed like Byron. Smith was deer hunting. Like a lot of folks. DO IN MINNESOTA. Where you get in your stand and your weight and your weight and when a deer come spy shoot and kill it and it just seemed like that's what he did with these kids but could they prove it turns turns out the prosecutors had something they'd never encountered in nearly half a century of combined? Trial work do you remember when I listen to it. I do and aw it knocked me out. I've never been able to hear a murder. Actually occurring Byron Smith had recorded the break in and the shootings shootings investigators found this digital audio recorder on a bookshelf in the basement. It had captured more than six hours worth of audio that day you ended it up with a trove of information his own words on tape. Do we do here. Is Byron Smith shortly before the break in talking to himself itself in your left eye. Why would he say that half hour before anyone came over well when you go through the autopsy photographs you see that? He Shot Haley Kafer in her left eye. He was planning where he was going to shoot an intruder mattress shooting. But where where in the face is he gonNA shoot them. Then it sounds like Byron is planning not just the shooting but also his defense he. He practices contacting a lawyer. I realize I don't have an appointment but I would like to see off the lawyers here. Ten minutes later the practicing is over. The recorder captures something real. How quickly did everything go down that day? Twelve minutes twelve minutes from the first shot fired at Nick Brady to the ninth and final one fired at Haley Kafer break. The prosecutors played all twelve minutes in court. But I warned Nick and Haley's families who sat through every day of the trial that they may not want to hear it he actually suggested you probably shouldn't be there more than once. Why did you want to be there? I needed to know I mean I. You need to hear the whole story to understand that I think in this case can't just make a snap judgment. This is the sound of Nick entering the home walking down the stairs to the basement ads. He's going down the stairs. You can hear him get shot. Aw We won't play that part of the recording but listen to what Byron says after Shooting Nick three times it you can then here Byron reload his gun. Ten minutes go by then. The recording picks up a whisper. And it's Haley coming into the house looking for her cousin so she comes in and goes right to the basement starts walking down and that's when he shoots her here on. The recording is what the prosecution says is a pivotal moment in his interview with Investigators Byron had said. He felt threatened by Haley and that she'd been laughing at him when he fired. But on that audio recording of the shooting which again we have edited the prosecution. Secretion says Haley clearly sounds terrified. She's screaming in a high pitch. Saying Oh my God. Oh my God and after he's done on shooting this is what Byron says those in court saw Smith wipe away tears as the audio played. There was stunned done silence. Save for the quiet sobs from Nick and Haley's families. Can you ever erase that from your memory ever ever. Since I heard that it's been replaying in my head over and over feel like any time I hear somebody say Oh my God. That's what I think of. But the prosecution wasn't done with that recording cute. I'm sure she thought she was a real pro. Because Byron continued to talk to himself after the teens were dead. What do you hear when you hear those words Pure Evil I? I don't know how you can hit about anybody to precious kids and I don't believe he was scared. I ah believe it was premeditated murder but in court the defense said that recording as disturbing as it is proves no such thing. CBS rather it shows a man quite possibly driven mad with fear. A little bit safer safe safe. I'm still shaking. He's talking to himself mumbling. Things didn't make sense. He sounds frankly like someone who's maybe losing his mind someone who's lost their mind. He is simply had no ability to deal with reality at that time. After a week of testimony the case went to the jury it was anyone's guess which portrait of Byron Smith those twelve people would believe the cold blooded killer lying in wait or the terrified man under siege in his own home. What were you thinking? As the jury went out to deliberate I gave it all to God. I was pretty peaceful. Just put your faith in him and waited and waited. It wasn't a long wait. The jury was back doc in less than four hours the verdict guilty of first degree murder for killing both Nick Brady and Haley Kafer. I waited. I heard word than I believe. And then it was said I was very happy to see him taken away but there was no winners. Doesn't give you your brother and your best friend back exactly but Byron. Supporters felt the opposite of relief shocked. stunned it was such a one sided trial. It was so unfair. Kathy says there's so much more to her friend. The jury never learned he just came here to retire and quiet. Life should have never happened. It was just twelve minutes that changed so many lives. In so many tragic ways Byron Smith will live out. His retirement in prison having received an automatic life sentence and Nick Brady Eighty and Haley Kafer two young cousins who made a terrible decision to enter that home paid for it with their lives and their loved ones are left to mourn a future future that will never be. You had a little baby girl not too long ago and they can Haley here to see that. I think that's probably one of the hardest part about all that I would've loved to see my brother. hold her ankle nick income nickel baby. And that's all for now. I'm Lester Holt. Thank you for joining us.."