Brutal murder case of Smith family to go to jury trial

The decision was made by Mtskheta court judge Vazha Pukhashvili., 23 Nov 2018 - 17:27, Tbilisi,Georgia

Malkhaz Kobauri, the 19-year-old Georgian shepherd accused of the brutal murder of American couple Ryan and Lora Smith and their four-year-old son on July 4 in the Khada Gorge, will be judged by jury trial.

The decision was made by Mtskheta court judge Vazha Pukhashvili yesterday.

“The accused Kobauri has publicly expressed his position that he wants his case to be judged by jury trial,” Pukhashvili said, adding that he had not received any factual or legal arguments from the defense side to suspend criminal prosecution against Kobauri.

Jury selection will take place on December 3 at the Gori district court.

Kobauri is facing life imprisonment if convicted.

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

The body of Ryan Smith was recovered on the second day. The Smiths’ son, Caleb, was not found for three days and only after the police detained Kobauri on July 9 did he show the spot 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.