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Family: 50 Years For Killer, Life Sentence For Us

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Tuesday morning, family and friends of murdered North Texas mother Karen Smith had the chance to address her killer in court.

Karen Smith was shot to death in a parking garage at UT Southwestern Medical Center in January 2013.  Her estranged husband Ferdinand Smith was arrested and confessed to the crime.

Monday, as jury selection began for the trial, Ferdinand Smith decided to plead guilty.  The agreement will mean 50 years in prison, 25 without the possibility of parole.

The victim's impact hearing lasted just an hour, but half a dozen friends and family of Karen Smith emotionally told of how her murder has affected many people.

Addressing Smith and the court Casey Cox, Karen's brother, said, "You took a loving mother from her children. A daughter from her parents, a sister from her siblings, an aunt from her niece and nephews who they'll never get to know in this world. I don't think you can fathom the wonderful person you took from all of us."

Karen Smith, 40, and Ferdinand Smith have three biological children, and the father has two other children from other relationships.

At the hearing, Karen's family repeatedly spoke of how the five children are hurting from the loss. At times, Ferdinand had tears in his eyes, but he mostly looked down or straight ahead.

"You perverted the very definition of love, marriage, and fatherhood by murdering the mother of your children," said Sam Franklin, a friend of the Smiths.

Ferdinand's relative, Nicole Smith, tearfully said, "I can't believe you did this to [your kids]. Regardless of what you and Karen went through, I can't believe you did this to your babies."

When he pleaded guilty, the 42-year-old Smith avoided a trial that could have put him away for life.

Karen Smith spent the last days of her life trying to distance herself from a violent past. She'd reported to police how Ferdinand had physically abused her for decades. She also had a protective order against him.

"She did exactly what we want a victim to do. She was brave and she took all the steps," prosecuting attorney Kendall Castello said frankly. "The truth is, these crimes are very hard to stop if someone is willing to take someone's life in this manner. At the end of the day, that's the decision that Ferdinand Smith made."

Karen's family said they are satisfied with the plea deal, as it spares them the suffering that a trial would bring.

While they may consider justice served, Karen Smith's family is still struggling with forgiveness. Her mother, Sara Horton, told Ferdinand, "When you murdered [your children's mother]. You lost your rights as a father. All you are for now and ever more is a murderer. I wish for you a cruel and violent death in prison, and that you burn in hell for eternity. I spit on the day I met you."

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