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Suspect of the Murder Case of American Family in Georgia Changes His Testimony

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, July 12
A suspect for the murder of the American couple Ryan and Lora Smiths and their 4-year-old son Caleb, no longer admits to the crime and says that two foreigners committed the murder.

The Mtskheta Court in the east of Georgia sent the 19-year-old internally displaced suspect to pre-trial detention yesterday for the premeditated murder of the Smith Family, which envisages life imprisonment if a court delivers a guilty verdict.

FBI has gotten involved in the case investigation, the US Embassy to Georgia told the IPN news agency.

The suspect, shepherd Malkhaz Kobauri told the judge that he did not commit the crime and mentioned "two foreigners” who killed the family and threatened him to not speak about it.

“They told me that they would kill my family members if I reported the murder,” Kobauri said.

The case prosecutor named a motive for the murder. He said that a verbal dispute between Kobauri and Ryan Smith emerged because of the riffle the shepherd had with him.

Ryan Smith made a remark to him and said that he was not careful with the weapon, especially in the presence of the child,” prosecutor David Kazarashvili told the court.

Kazarashvili said that during the dispute Kobauri shot Ryan Smith, while Lora Smith tried to escape and fell from a cliff.

He killed the 4-year-old child with a gunshot as he was crying and tried to hide all the evidence which could prove his guilt,” Kazarashvili stated.

The body of Lora Smith was the first found by Georgian emergency response group on July 6, next to a waterfall in the Khada gorge.

The body of Ryan Smith was found the next day.

Police stated initially that the bodies had no signs of violence. However, on July 9, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that that Ryan Smith was killed.

Later police said that Lora Smith really had no signs of violence, while Ryan Smith was found in a river after several days from the murder, with his body in a heavy condition and at the first glance it was hard to notice the gunshot.

The Smiths’ son, Caleb, was missing for three days and after Kobauri was detained on July 9, he showed the place to law enforcers where he had buried the child’s body.

The Smith family had been living in Georgia for more than six years and they received Georgian citizenship in 2012.

They lived in the Marneuli region of eastern Georgia and locals describe them as very positive and helpful people.

Ryan Smith was the founder of ”Rewoven”, which creates Caucasian rugs with traditional methods to revive this lost art for the benefit of its weavers and their community.

The detainee is from the currently-occupied Akhalgori district in the breakaway Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region. Since the Russia-Georgia 2008 war Kobauri and his family have been living in Mtskheta.