19-year-old shepherd Malkhaz Kobauri has been charged with murdering the Smith family after taking them to view a waterfall
An American woman was raped then murdered by a shepherd in ex-Soviet state Georgia after she was forced to watch the man shoot dead her husband and four year old son, say prosecutors.
The killer had logged onto pornographic websites before staging his attack, it is alleged.
The horrific case is due to go to trial but it was earlier believed Lora Joy Smith had died falling off a cliff as she fled the crime scene in the Khata Gorge, 52 miles from Tbilisi.
Now investigators – working with the assistance of the FBI – have said there is forensic evidence that 19-year-old shepherd Malkhaz Kobauri raped the terrified mother after killing her husband Ryan, and the couple’s young son Caleb.
Then he murdered the 42-year-old woman in ‘aggravating circumstances’, forcing her off a cliff at gunpoint, it is alleged.
The shepherd had been showing the family to a scenic waterfall on July 4 this year when he turned the gun, first on husband Ryan and then on 4-year-old Caleb.
The Smith family were murdered on July 4 and new evidence suggests that Lora, 42, was raped by 19-year-old shepherd Malkhaz Kobauri after she shot dead Ryan, 43 and Caleb, 4
The Smiths were ‘well respected’ members of the local and expat community and had joined US and Georgian citizenship
An argument ensured after 43-year-old Ryan – who like his wife had joint US and Georgian citizenship – told Kobauri to take care with the hunting rifle he was carrying.
Ryan told him he had not acted cautiously enough with the weapon, ‘especially in the presence of the child,’ prosecutor David Kazarashvili told the court.
The ‘irritated’ shepherd then shot him in the back and face before shooting dead his son.
New charges have been made against Kobauri that he raped the wife despite his defence’s claims that he was incapable of having sex and was a virgin.
‘The investigation found that before the incident, Malkhaz Kobauri had been visiting pornographic websites, which underlines his interest in this regard,’ said prosecutor David Kazarashvili.
Lora Smith was found next to a waterfall on July 6, and her husband Ryan and four-year-old son Caleb were found a day later, authorities in Georgia said. Malkhaz Kobauri (pictured) is charged with their murder
Ryan (right) and Caleb (left) were shot dead with a hunting rifle on July 4, and Lora died when she fell off a cliff after being raped by 19-year-old Malkhaz Kobauri
DNA tests found the shepherd’s sperm was found in the body of the victim and on her underwear, said reports citing law enforcement.
Shortly after the DNA results from the autopsy were declared Kobauri’s lawyer David Girgvliani quit the case.
Girgvliani did not give one specific reason, but said in a statement reported by Georgian news outlet Agenda that he has always ‘fought against illegalities and his goal was to establish the truth’ concerning the case.
‘I refuse to continue to participate in the case. I wish success to those who will defend Kobauri’s interests,’ Girgvliani said.
The defendant’s new lawyer Lekso Kobaidze insists his client is innocent, and he has retracted an earlier confession.
Lora (right with son Caleb) was a teacher while Ryan started a handcrafted Azerbaijani carpet business that sold rugs all over the world
The Smith family ran a business founded by Ryan (pictured) called ReWoven, that creates traditional, handcrafted Azerbaijani woven carpets
He is now claiming that ‘two foreigners’ killed the family and intimidated him into not saying a word.
‘They told me that they would kill my family members if I reported the murder,’ Agenda quoted Kobauri as saying.
Kobauri’s mother Mariam Martiashvili has said her son was forced to confess, but prosecutors say Kobauri showed police where the child’s body was hidden.
If convicted in next month’s jury trial Kobauri faces a life sentence.
Ryan, who was originally from San Diego, California, and Lora Smith had been living in Georgia’s eastern Marneuli city for more than 10 years.
They ran a business founded by Ryan called ReWoven, that creates traditional, handcrafted Azerbaijani woven carpets.
Ryan, originally from California, and his wife Lora moved to Tbilisi 10 years ago to run a carpet weaving business called ReWoven
Khada Gorge in the former Soviet state of Georgia, 52 miles from Tbilisi. The shepherd who is accused of their murder had been showing the family to a scenic waterfall on July 4
According to the company’s website, Ryan left the US for Azerbaijan in 2002 because of his ‘passion for travel and a love for people of other cultures’
Each carpet costs more than $1,000 and they have been sold all over the world.
According to the company’s website, Ryan left the US for Azerbaijan in 2002 because of his ‘passion for travel and a love for people of other cultures’.
While living in the capital of Baku he started working in the rug market and was inspired to start his own rug weaving business.
Ryan left Azerbaijan in December 2005 and came back to the US where he met and married his wife. The couple then moved to Georgia where Ryan started ReWoven.
His wife Lora had been a teacher in Washington state but later worked as an English teacher through a Georgian government program.
The Smiths were ‘well respected’ members of the local and expat community.