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CBS 11 Exclusive: Mother Says One Mistake Led To Daughter's Death

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Sara Horton will forever feel a sense of loss.

Her daughter, 40-year old Karen Smith, was shot and killed in the UT Southwestern hospital parking garage last month.

Horton says, "I miss her smile. I miss her laugh. I miss talking to her on the phone. I just miss her."

Police say her estranged husband, Ferdinand Smith, pulled the trigger.

He remains in the Dallas County jail on $515,000 bond, charged with murder.

Smith declined CBS 11's request as an interview.

In her first interview since her daughter was killed, Horton says, "As far as I'm concerned, he doesn't exist. He tried his best to destroy her, but he didn't. She's still in my heart. She's still in all of our hearts."

Court documents show Ferdinand Smith had a long history of domestic violence against Karen dating back to the 1980's.

And one month before he's accused of killing her, Horton says he attacked her daughter again.

"He had a knife, and he choked her, and she said she talked her away out of it, she said I knew if I got into the truck with him, he was going to kill me. She said she managed to calm him down and get him away from me, she said if he gets me again, he'll kill me."

After that attack, Horton says her daughter went to the police department to file a complaint against him.

She asked UT Southwestern police, where she worked, to escort her to her car.

Horton says, when Dallas police told her daughter they were going to arrest Smith, she stopped making the request.

It was the day she died.

Horton says, "I think in her mind, she thought they were on the way, so she didn't call UT Southwestern police to walk her to her car." When CBS 11's Jack Fink asked, "What a mistake that may have been." Horton responded, "It cost her her life."

Horton says her daughter recently practiced a routine to protect herself if she came face to face with her estranged husband. "She practiced going to her car. She practiced with her keys in her hands, her mace in one hand."

Karen Smith leaves behind three children ages 12, 15, and 18.

Horton says, "I think her oldest daughter understands more. The boys, they just don't want to think about it, they're just children."

Now, Horton says she and her son want to speak out against domestic violence, and do whatever they can to help women in crisis. "We don't want someone else's mother, daughter, child, friend to be killed again."

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