Fargo is a 1996 movie by the Coen brothers about a series of senseless murders in northern Minnesota. Fargo also a series running on the FX cable channel about a different series of senseless murders in northern Minnesota.
A real life episode of Fargo just played out in Little Falls, 30 miles south of Brainerd, where the events of both Fargos took place.
On Thanksgiving Day, 2012, Byron Smith, a former State department security specialist, shot and killed two teenagers who had broken into his home (from the Star Tribune):
After repeated break-ins to his home in the months leading up to that day, Smith had prepared his home with recording devices and himself with guns, he later told authorities. He was in his favorite basement reading chair with a paperback that day, he said, when he heard someone rattle the door handles to his house and saw a shadow through a picture window.Yesterday the 65-year-old Smith was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison. It took the jury only three hours to find him guilty.
The Morrison County jury heard glass break, movement, then two shots as Brady groaned “Oh.” Smith responded with another gunshot, saying, “you’re dead.”
Almost immediately after Brady was shot, rustling of the tarp was heard, then a dragging sound, then heavy breathing. Smith had moved Brady’s body to a workshop in his basement to keep blood from staining the basement carpet, he later told authorities.
The audio continued with the sound of a gun reloading, then more deep breaths and the sound of footsteps — first getting fainter and then becoming louder again. A few minutes later, in a quiet, low voice, a female mumbled “Nick.”
Soon, there was another booming gunshot and the sound of Kifer falling down the stairs. Smith quickly said, “Oh, sorry about that.”
“Oh, my god!,” Kifer said, and screamed.
“You’re dying,” Smith responded amid more gunshots. “Bitch.”
After more heavy breathing and a dragging sound, Smith said “bitch” once more. Jurors heard more movement, and the crack of a gun.
How is this case different from the Trayvon Martin murder? Well, it was tried in Minnesota, so the murderer didn't have NRA-authored laws to hide behind. The victims were popular white kids. And Smith had carefully recorded the murders, apparently thinking it would exonerate him.
In his defense, Smith said he was deathly afraid of another break-in, because burglars had previously stolen his shotgun (and why wasn't it locked in a gun safe to prevent that?). Byron Smith was a trained security expert. Guarding facilities had been his job. It's just not credible that this kind of man was shaking in his boots, a-feared for his life. He thought these kids were vermin and he wanted their blood.
The victims were tweaked-out idiots who were so stupid they didn't even think to run away when they heard gunshots in house they're breaking into. They were addicted to prescription meds and committed several burglaries to get them (nice job, big pharma!).
But the penalty for B&E isn't death. There are hundred ways Smith could have dealt with the break-in that didn't involve killing these two nitwits. His murder plot was extremely risky. He exposed himself to a great deal of danger. Why didn't he lock the basement door and call the police when he heard the breaking glass? What if his pistol had jammed and the kids actually did have the stolen shotgun? Smith either knew they were no threat or was so bent on retribution that he didn't care.
But after shooting two teenagers with disabling wounds, Smith administered kill shots to both of them. He had planned to do this the entire time, even putting out a tarp on his basement floor to collect the blood.
Just as creepy and cold-blooded as Billy Bob Thornton's character on Fargo.
What's incredible is how many people think these murders were justified. The last time I looked, a non-scientific poll on the Star Tribune website had 41% of respondents disagreeing with the jury's verdict. Are they not familiar with exactly how blood-thirsty and deranged Smith's actions were, or do they really think you can kill people like that?
Just the other day, a Montana man set a trap with a purse as "bait" in a garage, and killed a 17-year-old exchange student from Germany, being careful to aim high with his shotgun to avoid hitting his car. Creepy...
You don't automatically lose all your rights just because you're on someone else's property, invited or not. If Smith had instead raped Haile after wounding her instead of capping her in her head, how many people would think it was justified? Exactly nobody. Why do so many people blithely accept killing her, people who almost certainly classify themselves as "pro-life?"
This is the dark place that the gun-mad NRA mindset leads to. Their constant state of paranoia turns every shadow on the street and every thump in the night into a threat that must be met with deadly force, not just to stop them, but to hunt them down and kill them like vermin.