COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Wednesday afternoon, the 2004 murder saga of Kirby Smith took another strange twist.
In open court, the state of Georgia admitted it did not have the evidence to convict Rebecca Haynie and her friend Donald Keith Phillips of killing her estranged husband.
Ironically, a case that drew the attention of “Cold Justice,” a national television show, ended on a Zoom call.
Muscogee County Assistant District Attorney Robin Anthony told the court the state could not prove its case. She asked the murder charges be dropped.
The state and defense attorneys for both co-defendants agree the charges should be dismissed.
The main legal issue that Judge Gil McBride will have to decide is if the charges are dropped with prejudice or without. If they are dropped with prejudice that means Haynie and Phillips could never be charged in the case.
McBride told the parties he would issue that order by Christmas.
Smith was skilled in March 2004 at his Columbus business, Kirby’s Speed Shop.
Haynie’s attorney, Jason Sheffield with the Decatur, Ga., firm of Peters, Rubin, Sheffield & Hodges has been working the case for more than five years.
“This is a momentous day for Rebecca Smith Haynie because the state has decided and finally concluded that it cannot win this case if it were to go to trial,” Sheffield said. “The state concedes that this is a circumstantial case at best. The state concedes that there are alternate hypotheses as to who may have killed Kirby Smith.”
Three DAs – Julia Slater, Mark Jones and Sheneka Terry – touched the case. Slater brought in Cold Justice. Jones turned it into a death penalty case. Terry dropped the charges.
“Well, this case has been a rollercoaster ride,” Sheffield said. “I have never in my life seen a case that’s taken such turns. From a case that started off as a cold case, that was then swept up by a television show, that was then brought as a murder charge, then elevated to the death penalty. Now, we have the defendants free, the district attorney who brought those death penalty charges in prison. You will never see anything like this again.”