Ten years after Kirby Smiths homicide, witnesses had a little bit more to add after Cold Justice stars Yolanda McClary and Kelly Siegler arrived in town in late May, the TV stars said this week.
Smith was shot to death at his Jacqueline Drive auto repair shop in March 2004. His estranged wife and her alleged boyfriend were charged last week with his murder.
McClary and Siegler said parts of this investigation were a first for the show, which is in the middle of its second season.
(Columbus police Sgt.) Matt Blackstock, who worked with us while we were there, made the original scene and was the original investigator on the case, which was the very first time weve been able to do that, to have the original cop be with us while we worked on the case, said Siegler, a former prosecutor. Siegler and McClary, a forensics expert who is the basis for one of the characters on CSI, investigate cold cases around the country as part of TNTs Cold Justice.
The Kirby Smith investigation does not have an air date yet, but TNT said it will be scheduled in the batch of new episodes returning June 20 at 9/8c.
The pair spoke with the Ledger-Enquirer this week from Ohio, where they were working on another case.
Siegler said they were first approached about 10 months ago by Columbus police Sgt. Randy Long, one of the departments cold case investigators. And he reached out to us because we have to always be invited to participate in any case and law enforcement has to ask us first, she said.
Both Siegler and McClary were provided with all the necessary background on the case, including offense reports and crime scene photos.
We look at crime scene data. Try to make sure that we completely understand what went on out there. And so basically we just try and rip this case apart and then rebuild it from moment to moment, McClary said.
The pair came to Columbus on May 28 and investigated into the beginning of June. Smiths widow, Rebecca Smith Haynie, and Donald Keith Phillips were arrested June 5. They appeared for the first time in court the following day.
I think that what we ran into is what we always hope to run into, is a bunch of witnesses who are still luckily alive and local and everybody had a little bit more to add to what they had said before, Siegler said. And I think it even surprised the detectives that theres just a little bit more information with every witness we ran into, which made the case stronger in everybodys eyes.
McClary added: Definitely a couple of really good pieces that you always hope for that did happen off of some main players, so that helped changed the ballpark a little bit.
McClary and Siegler worked with three CPD investigators each day during their investigation. As a rule, they dont discuss specifics in order to preserve the District Attorneys case.
One of the cool moments was we were sitting in our war room, and I dont spend a lot of time focusing on the photos because I know that Yolanda is going to cover that, Siegler said. But she and (CPD) actually got into an argument, a hard argument, doing demonstrations about the way it all went down. So I just kind of kicked back in my chair and watched them all argue and see who was going to come out on top. And Yolanda did.
Not every case Cold Justice investigates ends in an arrest and an arrest precipitating so quickly after their investigation isnt normal, either.
It is not normal and it was a wonderful surprise. The way those guys (law enforcement) were on board and ready to move was very impressive and it wouldnt have happened without them, Siegler said.
McClary and Siegler met with Smiths son and daughter during their investigation.
They are two incredible, incredible people that I think keep their fathers spirit alive, McClary said.
Everybody we ran into had nothing but nice things to say about Kirby and still even think of him today, she said. So I think as the people that knew him and the family watch that, all of that is going to show.