DALLAS — After pleading guilty to murdering his wife, Ferdinand Glen Smith faced friends and family Tuesday morning in a Dallas County courtroom.
Armed with a gun, Mr. Smith waited for his estranged wife, Karen Smith, in the parking lot of her work in January at UT Southwestern Medical Center. According to prosecutors, he opened fire on her as she walked to her vehicle.
In a plea deal made with prosecutors, Mr. Smith agreed to a 50-year sentence.
Sara Horton, the victim's mother, told reporters she felt justice was served.
"I wish that you burn in hell for eternity," she said from the witness stand.
A family friend, Sam Franklin looked directly at Mr. Smith as he took the stand to give a victim impact statement.
"She did not love you anymore," Franklin said. "She loved her kids more. That's what we talked about every day."
The murder of Mrs. Smith touched a nerve with people across North Texas concerned over the issue of family violence.
Fourteen years prior to the shooting, Mrs. Smith wrote a letter that detailed a deadly threat made by her husband.
“Ferdinand grabbed me by the shirt and put the knife — a long steak knife — against my throat," she wrote. "He said, 'I'm going to kill you and kill myself.' He swore when my mother came over there would be two dead bodies"
She wrote the letter in an attempt to receive a protective order against Mr. Smith. Mrs. Smith said she endured years of abuse that included kicking and choking. The order was granted, but expired.
"We need to end the secrecy surrounding family violence," said Kendall Castello, the lead prosecutor.
Castello said he believed they had a strong case, but in the end made the deal to avoid putting the family through what would have been a highly emotional trial.
"You get 50 years, but you're sentencing us to life," one family friend said.
WFAA's Marjorie Owens contributed to this report