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Family: Wife accused of killing husband in Phoenix battling mental illness

Diane Smith and Brandon Smith
Posted at 11:15 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 02:23:06-04

PHOENIX — A Valley woman has been arrested and is accused of killing her husband, the very man who refused to leave her side as she was struggling.

Fifty-year-old Brandon Smith was shot and killed in north Phoenix early Sunday morning. His wife 52-year-old Diane Smith is behind bars for the crime.

“He told us he was in fear for his life, but he loved her, he loved her, and he said, ‘I’m going to do what it takes to get her help because I want my wife back,’” says Hollie San Julian, Brandon’s sister.

Brandon’s family says Diane suffered from mental illness for years and it's escalated over the last few months. Phoenix police confirm they have responded to the couple's home before.

“We knew what was going to happen. My son even knew how he was going to die, and they let somebody like that go, that’s where my anger is right there,” says Minia Smith, Brandon’s mother.

The family says Diane had been admitted to a few mental health facilities but always released too soon. “She needed treatment. Instead, they released her with a minor,” says Julian.

Court documents say the couple’s 14-year-old daughter was at home the night of the shooting, left with images no child should ever encounter.

“She says, ‘I just keep hearing my daddy’s scream, the gunshots just going through my head.’ She lost both parents in one night, in one moment,” says Julian.

ABC15 reached out to a licensed professional counselor for her perspective on these types of cases.

"We’re not biologically wired to harm people that we love, animals, things like that. It's highly unusual to do that if there's not something going on that's related to mental instability,” says Kelly O’Horo, founder of Infinite Healing & Wellness.

O’Horo saying it takes a village to create wellness. "We're not really meant to try to walk through this hard life alone and a counselor is a great way to try to get some advocacy and get some other eyes on your life and help you see things that you might not otherwise see."

As police continue to investigate what led up to the shooting, Brandon’s family is focusing on the well-being of his daughter

“He told me recently, ‘I’m her hero and I’ll always be her hero.’ I said, ‘that’s right you will,’ you know, and he was,” says Julian.