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Murder suspect: 'I know a little something about it'

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Upon being read his Miranda rights and formally charged with the murder of Genai Coleman, the first question Ronald Edward Smith asked was a simple one.

"So then my brother can be released?" Smith asked during the February 2010 police interview, the tape of which was played Wednesday during his trial in Gwinnett County Superior Court.

Smith -- wearing dark glasses and a white dress shirt buttoned to the top, his necktie held in hand -- sat motionless as jurors watched about a quarter of the roughly 4-hour interview from that day. His identical twin Donald, who was initially charged in the 2008 murder of Coleman, a DeKalb County elementary school teacher, was a recurring theme of conversation.

During a phone call to a childhood friend (taped during a break during police questioning), Ronald Smith stopped short of confessing to Coleman's shooting death outside a restaurant near a Duluth transit station.

"A whole lot is happening," Smith, now 54, could be seen saying. "They'll be letting Donald go as soon as possible."

Then: "I ain't going nowhere no time soon."

Coleman, 40, was waiting to pick up her daughter on July 18, 2008, when she was fatally shot during a carjacking. Her Dodge Stratus was recovered the following day in Clayton County, and DNA from a cigarette butt found inside was a match for Donald Smith -- and, as it turns out, Ronald Smith.

Donald was arrested on Feb. 3, 2010. But family members ultimately corroborated that surveillance video from a QuikTrip gas station was Ronald, not Donald, and fingerprints matched the former, police have said.

Gwinnett County Police Sgt. Edward Restrepo testified Wednesday that authorities suspected something was awry when he took Donald Smith to the crime scene near the intersection of Old Norcross Road and Satellite Boulevard.

Donald reportedly grew angry.

"I got a different response ... than what I was expecting," Restrepo testified, before being warned by Judge Melodie Snell Conner not to go into what Donald Smith reportedly said.

Ronald Smith was in custody within 24 hours, Restrepo said.

"Matter of fact, I know a little something about it," Smith said during the taped phone call played for jurors. "That's why I'm pretty much demanding that they let Donald go."

More than two years later, he faces life in prison on counts of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, hijacking a motor vehicle and possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony.

The defense plans to play the remaining hours of Ronald Smith's police interview Thursday morning. Donald Smith is also expected to be called to the stand.