Twin admits to teacher's shooting

LAWRENCEVILLE — A DNA-laden cigarette butt, fingerprint patterns and cell phone records had convinced investigators that Ronald Smith fatally shot an elementary school teacher in 2008 — even before he admitted to the killing, a detective testified Friday.

Smith, 51, is accused of carjacking and killing Genai Coleman, 40, as she waited to pick up her daughter outside a Duluth restaurant that summer.

Coleman's car — a gold Dodge Stratus — was recovered the following day in Clayton County, containing Smith's fingerprints and a cigarette butt under the driver's seat with his DNA, Gwinnett police Det. Damien Cruz testified.

Cell phone records show Smith made calls in the area around the time the car was dumped, Cruz said.

But it wasn't until Georgia Bureau of Investigation test results on the DNA came back — more than a year after the killing — that police were able to hone in on Smith's twin brother, Donald, who was originally charged with the murder.

"Identical twins will have identical DNA," Cruz said.

In custody, Donald Smith was shown surveillance video taken at a QT near the scene. He pointed police toward his brother — and asked them to show the footage to his parents and sister, who corroborated, Cruz said.

Ronald Smith was arrested when he showed up at his mother's home. He blamed the shooting on the gun's "hairpin trigger" as he confronted Coleman, Cruz testified. The single round pierced Coleman's heart and lung, he said.

Ronald Smith told police the gun was a .357 Magnum, but it hasn't been recovered, Cruz said.

A judge found probable cause to bind a charge of murder to Gwinnett Superior Court for indictment.

Charges against Donald Smith were dropped. Both men are believed to be homeless.

Outside the courtroom, the victim's sister, Snellville resident Camelia Coleman, said she felt sorry for Ronald Smith, in that his life could be the second ruined by a senseless act of violence.

Genai Coleman had recently been certified to operate a preschool academy, which she planned to open in her native Elkhart, Ind., where her daughters have all moved, Camelia Coleman said.

"My faith never waned that the system would work," she said. "We prayed for a quick resolve and swift justice, and we've seen that happen."