A Dwelling Defender & a Normal Middle Class Family

Nov 11, 2020, 12:30 PM
Byron David Smith was in his basement on Thanksgiving Day, minding his own business when he heard a window break upstairs. Then he heard someone enter his home. Byron grabbed his gun and waited quietly as the intruder roamed the house. When the intruder came down the stairs, Byron fired his gun three times. The intruder, 17-year-old Nicholas Brady, died. Ten minutes later, another intruder entered Byron’s home. It was 18-year-old Haile Kifer. Byron killed her, too -- shooting her six times. On the surface, it seemed that Byron had acted within his legal rights. In Minnesota, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in their home or dwelling. But as investigators soon discovered, this case wasn’t clear cut, and Byron wasn’t as innocent as he seemed.  

Then Brandi tells us about a “normal, middle class family,” but we all know where this story is headed. Chris and Tina Lunney were living what appeared to be a pretty comfortable life in New Jersey. They had two children, and had asked Tina’s mother to come live with them. From the outside looking in, it seemed that everything was going well. But then one day, Tina called Chris in a panic. Her mother, Marie Zoppi, had died by suicide. She hadn’t seemed unhappy, but she’d taken her life. Or had she?

And now for a note about our process. For each episode, Kristin reads a bunch of articles, then spits them back out in her very limited vocabulary. Brandi copies and pastes from the best sources on the web. And sometimes Wikipedia. (No shade, Wikipedia. We love you.) We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the real experts who covered these cases.

In this episode, Kristin pulled from:
“12 minutes on Elm street” episode of Dateline
“Court to announce jury’s verdict in Byron Smith murder trial,” by Ashli Overlund for WJON News
“MN Supreme Court upholds Byron Smith conviction,” by Allen Costantini for KARE 11
“Graphic audio released by courts of Byron Smith as he guns down two teens in his Minnesota basement,” Associated Press
“Little Falls man found guilty on all four counts of murder,” Associated Press 
“Castle Doctrine,” entry on Wikipedia
“Byron David Smith killings,” entry on Wikipedia 
“Byron David Smith,” entry on Murderpedia

In this episode, Brandi pulled from:
“Tina Lunney” episode Snapped
“State of New Jersey v. Tina Lunney” law.justia.com
“Prosecutor: Fairfield woman killed mother, 81, staged it to look like a suicide” by Julia Terruso, The Star-Ledger
“Husband reads letter to jurors where wife confesses to murdering her mother” by Julia Terruso, The Star-Ledger
“Fairfield woman told police she strangled mother with necktie” by Julia Terruso, The Star-Ledger
“Jury convicts Fairfield woman of strangling her mother” by Julia Terruso, The Star-Ledger