Dexter Nicks , 23, said he was living with Smith, 25, and her three children at the time of the shootings on the evening of Aug. 31. He said he had no reason to believe Smith would do anything to harm them.
"When we woke up Wednesday morning, she was happy and laughing. Everything was cool. It was good. She was laughing and talking," he said. But later, her mood changed, he said. "I tried to tell her not to buy that gun, but she wasn't listening to me. She kept smoking her cigarettes and staring off, like she was in another world or something," Nicks said.
The pair picked up Smith's oldest child, Xaveious Brown, 8, and LeVada from school at 3:15 p.m. and went to O'Fallon to buy a part for the children's video game console. Yokela was already with the couple, Nicks said.
Smith was driving and Nicks was concerned that she was not paying attention to speed limits.
"I was telling her to slow down while she was driving. I pointed out to her that the police were out stopping people. She said she had everything under control," Nicks recalled.
"I got this. I got this," she kept saying," Nicks said.
Nicks said a police officer pulled behind them and tried to stop their car, but Smith said she wasn't going back to jail and sped up
Nicks said Smith had been locked up for two weeks on a felony DUI charge and had recently gotten out of jail.
"When we got to the mall (St. Clair Square), she almost got into an accident. I was scared. I think she blanked out. The police stopped following us and I think Yokeia thought they were going to come to the house to get her
," Nicks said.
"When we got to East St. Louis, near the Kingshighway exit, she called a man she knew and told him somebody was trying to rob her and she needed a gun," said Nicks. "That wasn't true."
Nicks doesn't know the person Smith bought the gun from and he doesn't know who she was talking to on the phone.
Nicks said he repeatedly told Smith not to buy a gun, but she wouldn't listen. "It was like she wasn't there. She kept staring straight ahead and smoking cigarettes. I don't know what happened to her," he said.
"She started counting her money and everything. She had it in her mind that she was going to buy that gun. I stayed in the car with the kids when she got out of the car and started walking up this alley," he said.
Nicks estimated that it was between 20 and 25 minutes before he saw Smith come walking down the alley. This time, she had a shotgun.
Nicks said his thoughts were scattered. He felt on the one hand he should leave, but on the other he felt he needed to stay to try to help Smith through whatever she was going through. It never crossed his mind that in the condition he saw her in that she could shoot him or the children.
"When we got back to the apartment, she went to her room and loaded the gun. I was looking at her load the gun.
"She had a bottle of Smirnoff Ice sitting on the floor between her legs. I tried to get the bullets and hide them, but I couldn't.
I started pacing back and forth in the apartment and she wanted to know why I was doing that," said Nicks.
The children were in the living room playing with their video game.
"I heard her back there loading and clicking the gun while I was in the living room with the kids. She turned around real fast and walked into the kids' room and shot that gun out of the window
," he said.
Thinking that the blast had to come from the outside, Nicks rushed outside. He saw people outside looking around. They asked him if he heard the blast. Nicks told them he did. He said to himself, "I know she didn't just shoot that gun," he said.
When Nicks returned inside and asked Smith if she shot the gun, she said she just wanted to "test it out."
After that, Smith put the gun in her closet, he said. "Then, she sat on her bed and started rocking back and forth."
"She was not looking at me or responding to anything I was saying to her. I told her she was tripping (or not behaving normally). She just kept rocking back and forth. I don't know if she heard or understood anything I said. She probably wasn't even listening to me," he said.
Nicks said he knew Smith was taking prescribed medications because she was diagnosed as bi-polar, suffering from depression and schizophrenia.
Nicks said he became fearful at different times after that that Smith could get violent with the weapon. And he knew if he got into a tussle with her over the gun and it went off and shot her, "I might go to jail."
After about 45 minutes of being at the apartment, Nicks said he made a decision to leave because he became afraid, but never felt the children were in danger.
"This whole thing is like a bad nightmare," he said, adding he has trouble sleeping. "I keep playing it over and over in my head. It's just not real to me."
Nicks said the children will always have a special place in his heart.
"Like I said, we were a family. I stepped up and accepted the responsibilities of dealing with a woman who had three kids," he said. "I was there for her and them. I still love her."