O.C. Smith goes one-on-one with Janice Broach

Published: Nov. 24, 2006 at 10:31 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 5, 2006 at 10:55 PM CST
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O.C. Smith (after paramedics arrived at the scene)
O.C. Smith (after paramedics arrived at the scene)
O.C. Smith (present)
O.C. Smith (present)

Who can forget the pictures?

Former medical examiner Dr. O. C. Smith was "the man in the barbed wire mask." A motion sensitive bomb was strapped and super glued to his neck. His hands were padlocked crucifixion-style to a window grate at the Shelby County Forensics center.

For the first time in more than four years, Smith is breaking his silence.

"Did you think you were going to die?" asked Action News 5's Janice Broach.

"I never looked that far ahead," he said.

Smith says it happenednon the west side of the Forensics Center on Madison in 2002. Around 10:00 on a Saturday night, Smith says a man threw lye in his face and forced him down the dark stairs.

"I just saw his hand and caustic fluid hit my face dropped my keys and I got a second gush," he said. Seconds later, he says he felt the barbed wire.

"I could feel the pain of the wire but I couldn't see and I didn't know what was causing the pain. It's not cutting but its pushing in on the pressure points and its - uh uh - produces tremendous pain but without the damage."

Prosecutors focused on the lack of lacerations brought on by the barbed wire. They say pictures prove their point Smith did this to himself, accusations Smith has denied for years.

"I mean, come on," he said.

As for the bomb, he said, "at that point I didn't care about anything else because if this is a motion sensitive device then the only thing you could do is stay absolutely still."

Smith says his attacker - a man he put at 6-feet-tall and 200 pounds - warned him not to move. "As he was getting ready to leave he came up and whispered in my ear basically 'push it, pull it, twist it and you die welcome to death row.'"

Smith says he was in the stairwell for more than two hours, before a University of Tennessee security officer found him.

"I really did some things I shouldn't have done," he said. "I called for him to help me." Smith says he should have cautioned the officer to stay away. Afterall, there was a bomb strapped to his body.

"I wasn't man enough to shut up. And I begged him I begged him to come down," he recounted.

The bomb never went off.

As the attack investigation began, Smith soon learned he was the prime suspect. Hidden camera video shows him being interrogated by a special prosecutor.

"At some point and time they said it just doesn't add up and we think you did it," he explained.

A federal trial dragged on for weeks. The jury dead locked. The judge issued a mistrial.

"Obviously you know there are some people out there who still think you did it. So what would you tell them?" asked Broach.

"I don't think they are going to enjoy the book," Smith responded.

The "book" is a story he's currently shopping to publishers.

Prosecutors have said they will not try Smith again.

Click here to send Janice Broach an email.