Jurors pondering case of slain teacher

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Slumping over an interrogation room telephone in 2010, Ronald Smith said things to a girlfriend when police left the room that echoed in court Thursday -- cryptic statements that could help prosecutors condemn him to prison.

"I'm through ... I really am," Smith said in the phone call, played during closing arguments in his murder trial. "Someone died about a year and a half ago, and they died at my hands."

On tape, Smith appeared to realize the strength of the case against him: "Ain't no wigglin' out of this," said Smith, now 54. "I don't think there's that much wiggle room in the world."

Smith is charged with fatally shooting Genai Coleman, 40, a DeKalb County school teacher, during a carjacking on July 18, 2008. Coleman was waiting to pick up her daughter from work in Duluth when Smith allegedly picked her at random.

Coleman, a U.S. military veteran, stalled that day as long as she could. Frustrated, Smith punched her in the face, screamed profanities at her and ultimately fired a .357 magnum, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Lisa Jones said in closings.

Smith told police the shooting was an accident, in that the gun had a hair-trigger.

Coleman's Dodge Stratus was recovered the following day in Clayton County. DNA from a cigarette butt found inside matched federal prison records for Smith's twin brother, Donald Smith, who was arrested but later cleared.

Fingerprints on Coleman's car matched Ronald Smith, and he was staying in a hotel near where the car was found, Jones said.

While the DNA of identical twins can match exactly, no two people's fingerprints have been identical in history, Jones told jurors, citing expert testimony.

Smith's attorney, Robert Greenwald, argued that Donald could have been lying about his innocence. Ronald's fingerprints could have been lifted from the car because he helped his brother clean it out, Greenwald told jurors.

Greenwald also contended that his client's statements to police were too generic for him to have been involved.

Deliberation began about 5 p.m. Thursday. Smith faces life in prison.