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Shepard Accused of Murder of Smith Family in Georgia Changes Details

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, August 7
19-year-old shepherd Malkhaz Kobauri, who is accused of the brutal murder of Ryan and Lora Smith and their 4-year-old son Caleb in eastern Georgia, Khada Gorge, now say that not “two foreigners,” but “seven individuals were at the scene” and they killed the family.

"He says that he was bathing when some strangers came to him and told him to get out of the water. They took his gun and demanded from him to be silent. They took him to the American family.

“They talked for a while [Ryan Smith and the strangers], which then turned into a conflict between one of the individuals and Ryan Smith, after which, the latter was shot twice with Malkhaz Kobauri’s gun. Then Kobauri was told to bring bullets from his home, after which they killed the child. Kobauri says he has not seen anything else”, Lekso Kobaidze, Kobauri’s lawyer says.

The lawyer says that the strangers wanted to kill Kobauri too, but "one of the group members convinced them not to do it."

Kobauri has already been checked for mental health at Tbilisi Forensic Bureau. The outcomes have not been revealed yet.

The Georgian media has reported that Kobauri’s genetic profile was found in Lora Smith’s body, which means the woman was raped. However, official sources have not yet commented on the issue.

The previous lawyer David Girgvliani abandoned Kobauri after the media reports on possible rape.

Mtskheta court in eastern Georgia sent Kobauri to pre-trial detention on July 11.

Kobauri does not admit to the crime and speaks about " foreigners” who killed the family and threatened him to conceal the truth.

The case prosecutor says that a verbal dispute between Kobauri and Ryan Smith emerged because of the rifle the shepherd had with him.

“Ryan Smith made a remark to Kobauri, who was drunk, and said that he was not cautious 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.

The prosecutor did not mention rape during the trial, but the Interior Ministry confirmed in its previous statements that the alleged rape of Lora Smith was also being investigated.

Kobauri himself showed the site to the police where the child’s body was buried.

Kobauri is facing life imprisonment if found guilty.