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Judge denies bond for Rebecca Smith Haynie in cold-case homicide

Despite her attorney’s arguing that Rebecca Smith Haynie’s family needs her care and income, and that the murder suspect presents no risk of flight nor any threat to the witnesses against her, a Superior Court judge declined Monday to set a bond so she could get out of jail.

Haynie and her alleged lover, Donald Keith “Bull” Phillips, are charged in Kirby Smith Jr.’s fatal 2004 shooting in Kirby’s Speed Shop, 1438 Jacqueline Drive. A coworker found Smith’s body inside the shop around 7:45 a.m. Monday, March 4, but police believe he was killed around 9 p.m. the day before.

Haynie and Smith then were involved in a contentious divorce, and police believe she persuaded Phillips to kill Smith that night while she worked at a Warm Springs hospital.

Her attorney, Michael Reynolds, noted Monday that Haynie, a registered nurse with expertise in maternity care, was her family’s “primary breadwinner” and the caregiver for a 5-year-old grandchild she and husband Heath Haynie adopted.

After her arrest June 4, Haynie lost her job, and her husband had to take family leave from his work to care for the grandchild, leaving the family finances at risk of collapse, Reynolds said.

He said police suspected Haynie played a role in Smith’s death from the beginning, so she has lived under a cloud of suspicion for 10 years, yet she has not fled the city nor tried to influence witnesses in the case.

“She has been a law-abiding citizen all of this time,” Reynolds said. “There is not a stain on her record.”

He asked Judge Frank Jordan Jr. for a bond of $30,000 to $50,000.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly told the judge his office had heard from 40 people who objected to granting Haynie a bond. Eight were relatives and three were witnesses, some of whom felt “in fear of their life” if Haynie got out of jail, Kelly said.

Kelly said those who knew Haynie described her as “vindictive,” “violent,” “dangerous” and “unpredictable.” Some feared she would retaliate against Smith’s family were she freed, he said.

The only witness to address the court was Smith’s son Dustin, whose sister Heather Brooks stood at his side.

“She’s very manipulative,” he said of Haynie, adding he felt the suspect already had caused enough damage to his family, including his sister and his younger brother Kirby Smith III, a son Haynie and Kirby Smith Jr. had.

Reynolds said Kirby Smith III has taken his mother’s side in the murder case.

Kelly said the case differs from others in that it was featured on the TNT cable crime show “Cold Justice,” which included interviews with witnesses who believe Haynie killed her estranged husband. Some of those interviewed were relatives, and Haynie knows where they live and work, should she decide to hunt them down, Kelly said.

In denying Haynie bond, Judge Jordan noted that under Georgia law she is not entitled to a bond on a murder charge unless she has not been indicted within 90 days of her arrest, which was on June 4. That means the law does not require she be granted a bond unless she has not been indicted by Sept. 4, the judge said.

Reynolds said that if his client remains unindicted then, he again will try to get her a bond in September.

Haynie was to have had a bond hearing Friday, but it was postponed when prosecutors learned Jordan had handled Rebecca and Heath Haynie’s adoption of their grandchild. Reynolds did not think the matter warranted any delay, but District Attorney Julia Slater wanted more time to look into it, to determine whether Jordan should recuse himself because of his prior dealings with the family.

Kelly raised no objection Monday to Jordan’s continuing to preside over the case.

During Rebecca Haynie’s preliminary hearing June 6 in Columbus Recorder’s Court, investigators testified that because Smith had evidence of his wife’s infidelity, the divorce terms under consideration at the time would have awarded them joint custody of their son, Kirby Smith III, so the mother would have received no child support nor gained any settlement, detectives said.

Rebecca Haynie back then had talked about wanting Smith dead, and possibly hiring a hit man, they said.

On March 3, 2004, Smith spent part of the day riding dune buggies with son Dustin, one of two children from an earlier marriage. That evening at his auto shop, he was on his computer, which he had used to post a profile of himself on the online dating site Match.com, investigators said.

They said Rebecca Haynie and Smith had an AOL account through which she could tell Smith had logged onto his auto shop computer around 8:30 p.m.

She then was working as a nurse at a high-risk nursery in a Warm Springs hospital, and later told police she had been called in for an emergency C-section that night, though investigators later determined she had the authority to set her own hours, and suspected she arranged the work schedule to create an alibi.

In 2004, she was living off Edgewood Road near University Avenue. Phillips, who was at her home that night, told police he left there around 8:45 p.m. to drive to Taco Bell at 7330 Veterans Parkway, a trip investigators estimated at 11 minutes. There he called Rebecca Haynie’s cellphone from a pay phone, they said.

Phone records show the call went through at 9:33 p.m., police said, leaving Phillips time to kill Smith before traveling to Taco Bell.

Rebecca Haynie, who married Heath Haynie about four months after Smith’s homicide, has told police what she said in 2004 about wanting Smith dead was typical of anyone going through a contested divorce and not to be taken seriously.

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