DURHAM — LaToya Smith had broken up with Tyrone Hester less than a month before the young man shot and killed their baby daughter and then himself Saturday.
Hester, 25, had served probation for assaulting a woman and a government officer and possession of stolen goods. A family member called Hester's relationship with Smith "abusive."
Police found Hester dead behind an apartment building at 901 Chalk Level Road around 1 p.m. They also found Tyaijah, 22 months old, critically injured with a single gunshot wound. She was pronounced dead at Duke Hospital.
Smith's brother-in-law, Qu'ran Magwood, said the couple dated for more than four years and that Hester was prone to jealousy, possessiveness and control.
Magwood said Smith would lie about bruises on her body, and Hester forbade her from visiting family by herself.
"He couldn't come, she couldn't come," he said. "Toya really couldn't go nowhere."
Magwood said the relationship ended last month after Smith went with Tyaijah, her 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son to live with her sister Shontellia McRae.
"Toya then decided then at that point in time, she really didn't want to be with him," Magwood said.
Magwood said the couple tried to come to an agreement about sharing custody of Tyaijah, but their conflict escalated when Hester found out Smith was dating another man.
"Tyrone loved the baby, but he did state that no other man was going to raise his child," Magwood said. "Never did he say he would kill Toya, he would kill himself or he would kill the baby. He never gave you the impression that he would do something like this. It was more or less like a jealous rage. That was his heart. He couldn't really accept them breaking up. He wasn't ready to let go."
Still, Magwood said Hester was a devoted father and that Smith didn't see Tyaijah alive after last Thursday because she was with him.
"He didn't ever want her to leave his eyesight," Magwood said. "Tyaijah would fall, and before she even hit the ground, he was there. Before he hit the ground, he was catching her. Before the tear fell out of her eyes, he was wiping it."
That same intensity became too much for Smith. "Ty wasn't a bad dude. He was a dude who was just madly in love and he couldn't accept no," said Magwood. "They were young and in love. They tried. It just didn't work out. And one took the words 'love you to death' too far."
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