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Man given life plus 25 years in '08 murder

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Ronald Smith has been sentenced to life in prison plus 25 years in the 2008 murder of a DeKalb County school teacher.

After beginning deliberations late Thursday afternoon, a Gwinnett County jury found Smith, 54, guilty Friday morning of the carjacking turned fatal shooting of Genai Coleman, killed near a Duluth transit station while waiting to pick up her daughter.

Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Lisa Jones, who prosecuted the case, said a verdict was returned at about 9:45 a.m. Friday. Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner sentenced Smith to life in prison plus 25 years.

The case was an interesting one from the get-go, with Smith's identical twin brother, Donald, originally being arrested and charged with the murder in 2010 after DNA found in Coleman's car matched his. Donald Smith was later cleared after palm and fingerprints matched his brother, and family members informed authorities that surveillance footage was actually of Ronald.

Ronald Smith later provided a cryptic near-confession when a phone conversation after being detained was taped, catching him telling a childhood friend, among other things, that "someone died about a year and half ago, and they died at my hands."

Smith later told police the shooting was an accident.

He was convicted on charges of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, hijacking a motor vehicle and possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony.