The 12-member jury has found Malkhaz Kobauri, born 1998, guilty of murdering an American couple and their four-year old son in Georgia’s north-eastern Dusheti Municipality in July 2018.
Following a four-hour deliberation, the jury members found Kobauri guilty on all counts of charges brought against him.
The prosecution has charged Kobairi under Articles 109 (murder under aggravating circumstances) and Article 137 (rape, a sexual intercourse by use of violence, threat of violence or abusing the victim’s helpless condition) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which envisages imprisonment from 16-20 years to life in prison. The court will deliver the final sentence at its hearing scheduled for March 27.
Kobauri’s defense lawyer, Alexander Kobaidze told reporters on March 26 that he intends to challenge the jury ruling at the Supreme Court.
Prosecutor Zaza Datukishvili noted that the jury ruling was no surprise, citing a volume of direct evidence confirming Kobauri’s guilt. He also said that considering the gravity of the crime, the prosecution will demand life imprisonment for Kobauri.
The Interior Ministry first announced the discovery of the bodies of Lora and Ryan Smith on 7 July 2018. On 9 July, further investigation announced that Ryan Smith and his son Caleb have died as a result of sustained gunshot wounds, while Laura Smith “has died as a result of fall into the ravine, apparently fleeing the crime scene”.
Kobauri was charged with premeditated murder and remanded in pretrial custody. Following the detailed expertise, he was also charged with raping Lora Smith.
The background stories are available at this link.