Thursday, October 18, 2012
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
LAWRENCEVILLE -- A murder trial is scheduled to begin next week in the 2008 slaying of a schoolteacher shot during a carjacking -- a case that has already seen a remarkable twist.
Ronald E. Smith, 54, is accused of fatally shooting Genai Coleman, 40, as she waiting to pick up her daughter outside a Duluth restaurant near a transit station on July 18, 2008. Coleman, a DeKalb County elementary school teacher, was angling herself to open a preschool academy at the time of her death.
Coleman's gold Dodge Stratus was recovered the following day in Clayton County. DNA lifted from a cigarette butt under the driver's seat lead police to arrest Smith's twin brother, Donald, whose DNA was an exact match. Surveillance video from a QT gas station near the shooting scene showed what police thought was Donald Smith in the area.
But when family members corroborated that the man on surveillance was actually Ronald Smith, police honed in on him. Authorities said he was homeless at the time.
In an earlier hearing, a detective testified that Ronald Smith admitted to carjacking Coleman and claimed the shooting was accidental. Colemen died of a single shot to her chest.
At the time of her death, Coleman was planning to open a preschool academy in her native Elkhart, Ind., family members said.
Jury selection in Smith's trial is scheduled to begin Monday. He faces life in prison on counts of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, hijacking a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a felony.