The estranged wife of a slain Columbus man and another man were charged Thursday in the 2004 death of William "Kirby" Smith, who was gunned down at his auto repair shop at 1438 Jacqueline Drive, police said today.
Police identified the suspects as Rebecca Smith Haynie, who was separated from Smith at the time of his death, and Donald Keith Phillips. Both were charged with one count each of murder. Haynie and Phillips are being held at the Muscogee County Jail for an 8 a.m. hearing Friday in Recorder's Court.
Police Lt. Greg Touchberry said the arrests were based on the combined efforts of the Columbus Police Department's Robbery/Assault Unit, the Muscogee County District Attorney's Office and the television program "Cold Justice."
Smith, the 50-year-old owner of Kirby's Speed Shop, was fatally shot March 8, 2004. He was killed as he apparently worked at a computer.
His body was found about 8 a.m. but investigators estimated he died around midnight or 1 a.m. after he was shot with a 9 mm pistol. Police found no evidence that an intruder had entered the business. Cash and keys to a new Chevy Corvette were found at the business.
Two years after his death, family members of Smith placed his picture on a billboard and offered a $10,000 reward for information in the slaying.
Smith was on his second marriage. He was married to his first wife, Carolyn, for 16 years, from 1971 through 1986, divorcing in '87.
Kirby Smith and Haynie married in 1996. According to previous reports, Haynie remarried in June 2004, just three months after Kirby's death.
The homicide spawned rumors his divorce may have played a role, but Haynie last year said they had worked out their differences and come to an agreement.
"People rushed to judgment because we were going through a divorce, but some of the people close to him knew that we had already reached an agreement with our divorce. It just had to be finalized," she said last year. "We had come to a good place. We had reconciled all our issues. We had gotten past being bitter."
She said the loss had lingering effects on her: "It was two years after Kirby's death before I stopped picking up the phone to call him. Things would happen in little Kirby's life and I would pick up the phone and start to dial his number, and realize he was gone."