Investigation of Kirby Smith's death shown on 'Cold Justice'

spedersen@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 11, 2014 

The cold-case murder of Kirby Smith hit prime-time television Friday night when TNT's "Cold Justice" aired the investigation and arrests of Smith's estranged wife, Becky Haynie, and Donald "Bull" Phillips.

Former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and former investigator Yolanda McClary, the two leads for the shows, were in Columbus late May assisting the Columbus Police Department with the 10-year-old investigation of Smith's death. He was found shot to death in his auto shop March 8, 2004.

Driving into Columbus, Siegler and McClary described Smith as a "funky, one-of-a-kind, good-ol' southern boy" who liked NASCAR and "beer drinking."

The first noticeable shot in Columbus is in front of the Public Safety Building, where Siegler and McClary meet Sgt. Matt Blackstock, who was the first responder to the scene 10 years ago, and Sgt. Randy Long, who is in charge of Columbus' cold-case unit.

Haynie, her then-new boyfriend, Heath Haynie, and Phillips, who had a relationship with Becky Haynie they could only describe as "unusual," were the main suspects from the start.

They say Becky Haynie's motive is custody and money issues, which includes a $250,000 life insurance policy they say Becky Haynie and Heath Haynie eventually benefitted from when they married three months after Smith's death.

Phillips, the investigators say, wanted his relationship with Becky Haynie to be more than it was.

"Bull doesn't come across someone with a high I.Q.," Blackstock added. Another investigator said Bull was "basically her bitch."

Throughout the show, we see some of original interviews the CPD had with Becky Haynie. In those interviews she admits to police she talked about killing Smith. But she also said she's said that about her current husband and "he's still walking … . "

Most of the recognizable scenes around Columbus include several shots of the Chattahoochee River, the whitewater course and the water tower. It also shows the railroad tracks and vehicles traveling on Sixth Avenue.

Siegler and McClary meet with two of Smith's children from a previous marriage. Heather Brooks says Becky Haynie tried to throw her under the bus and blamed her for Smith missing her wedding. Dustin Smith said Becky Haynie only wanted to know where some of Smith's property was when they met at the funeral home.

After recreating the crime scene, investigators agree the suspect put the gun directly to the back of Smith's head after initially shooting him in the back of his left shoulder. The final shot went through the base of his skull and out through the bridge of his nose.

Most of the interviews with friends and family painted a picture of Becky as "a lunatic."

Her own sister said, "She's really just a mean kid with a magnifying glass with a bunch of ants." Her adoptive mother told police her first thought when she heard about Smith's death was that Becky Haynie killed him.

Halfway through the show, investigators again interview Heath Haynie. His story doesn't change and his alibi of being out of town that night again checks out.

The focus then turns to Phillips and Becky Haynie, who police now know could control her schedule and create the scenario that she'd get called into work.

A coworker says Haynie acted "hysterical" that night, saying she was crying, then laughing and crying more.

According to documents, Phillips called Haynie 29 times the day of Smith's homicide, including eight times between 9-9:15 p.m. and two more times from a pay phone after 9:30 p.m. His initial story for using the pay phone was he was trying to get rid of some spare change.

But when investigators from "Cold Justice" interviewed Phillips in May, he told them he used the pay phone because Becky Haynie would sometimes block his number. He also told the investigators that they had a sexual relationship, which Haynie denied later in the show.

Siegler and McClary believed at this point they had enough circumstantial evidence to arrest both Phillips and Haynie for Smith's homicide.

Muscogee County District Attorney Julia Slater and Chief Assistant Attorney Alonzo Whitaker met with investigators and agreed.

"I feel like with circumstantial cases, if I know that this is the right person and I know there is enough evidence to convict him, sometimes you just have to go to trial and see if they will convict him," Slater said. "I think you've got everything we need."

"They may be slow talking in Georgia," Siegler said, "but they ain't slow moving."

After talking with Becky Haynie for a few minutes in a parking lot, Blackstock approached her from behind and placed her under arrest.

"OK," Haynie said.

Phillips was arrested later that day.

"It's a beautiful case against both of them," Siegler said. "… she masterminded it and Bull pulled the trigger."

The episode ended with Siegler and McClary telling Smith's children about the arrests.

"If he was here, he'd give you a big ol' hug for helping us," Heather Brooks said.

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