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A Georgia judge has thrown out murder charges against two people who were arrested in a 2004 killing, barring the state from ever charging them again.

Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Gil McBride on Wednesday dismissed charges against Rebecca Haynie and Donald Keith Phillips in the death of William Kirby Smith Jr. in Columbus.

McBride wrote that the state’s delays in prosecuting the case are intolerable and the fact that charges were only filed after the involvement of true crime reality show further compromised the case.

“The state has had available vast public resources and ample opportunity to bring this case to trial during the approximately 17 years that have elapsed since the murder giving rise to these charges and seven years since defendants were first arrested for this crime,” McBride wrote.

Muscogee County prosecutors had asked McBride to drop the charges, saying they did not have enough evidence to win convictions, but wanted the chance to refile them later. But McBride agreed with defense lawyers who wanted Haynie and Phillips protected from future prosecution, saying he would not allow “further delay and further uncertainty.”

Haynie and Phillips were charged with murder in the 2004 homicide of Haynie’s then-husband Smith inside Kirby’s Speed Shop in Columbus. Prosecutors alleged Haynie, who was his estranged wife, conspired with her lover Phillips to kill him, shooting him twice.

McBride had already found prosecutors in contempt in June for disobeying court orders to provide materials to the defense, including evidence related to “Cold Justice,” a show that featured the suspects’ arrests.

“It is doubtful defendants would have ever been charged based on the record of this case in the absence of interest from a California entertainment studio 10 years after the crime was committed,” McBride wrote. “This order is the outcome that results naturally when forensic inquiry and the pursuit of truth are confused with entertainment.”

During a preliminary hearing in 2014, investigators said they immediately considered the estranged wife a suspect, as she and Smith were involved in a contentious divorce, and Smith claimed evidence of his wife’s infidelity.

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