ATLANTA (CBS46) -- The case of a 14-year-old girl beaten, raped, then shot and killed more than two decades ago is getting another look

by the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. And officials say they are 'praying' this is the year it will be solved.

Monday marked exactly 26 years since the brutal beating and murder of Nacole Smith.

The teen was walking to school in Southwest Atlanta but turned back around after forgetting an assignment. She cut through the nearby

wooded area, where police say she was attacked.

"So what kind of mom would I be if I don't fight to bring this guy to justice," cried Acquanela Smith.

The mother began a fight that has never stopped: a painful search for answers just as raw as the gruesome

day of her daughter's killing in 1995.

"It's just a matter of time." She repeated, "Just a matter of time [before] I'll be able to breathe again."

The Fulton County District Attorney's Office will be re-examining and testing evidence untested before.

The office is also dedicating an entire unit to cold cases now.

"The brutality in which she was treated likely was the result of the fact that she fought for her life," Assistant DA Adriane Love told

CBS46.

Love remains hopeful the new sampling and testing will lead to a major break in the investigation.

"I'm praying that this is year," she said.

Officials are narrowing down a suspect through genetics too as they've possibly found the offenders distant

relatives. Additionally, because the suspect's DNA was connected to another attack where the victim survived,

investigators believe Nacole's case is not nearly as cold as it once was. Smith is betting on that.

"So I just keep pushing and keep fighting cause I know she's watching and saying 'my mom is going

to get him."

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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