American Fork woman filed protective order against ex-boyfriend prior to her death

Posted at 10:19 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 00:19:06-05

AMERICAN FORK, Utah -- A woman killed by her ex-boyfriend in a Walmart parking lot in American Fork had a protective order filed against the man just a few weeks earlier, according to police.

Sue Ann Sands, 39, was shot and killed by James Dean Smith, 33, Sunday Night.

"I lost it, I went, 'no, no, no she's only 39, no no no this can not be happening,'" said the victim's aunt Tamerie Jensen.

Jensen said its not fair. Sands just had a baby girl and landed a new job. Then it was all taken away.

"She was just bubbly and laughing and just upbeat," Jensen said.

However, beneath the surface, Sands was in trouble. In November a temporary protective order was granted against Smith, who she had recently broken up with according to police.

"I really commend Sue Ann for coming forward and saying, 'hey I'm in danger I need help,'" Jensen said. "A lot of women in abusive relationships will not come forward."

Despite the protective order, police said Sands agreed to meet Smith at the Meadows shopping center Sunday night where an argument ensued.

"We do have a report of two shots being fired this led to a vehicle chase," said Lt. Gregg Ludlow of the American Fork Police. "Ending in the Walmart parking lot with Mr. Smith ramming his vehicle into Ms. Sands vehicle as well as firing rounds at her striking her and killing her."

Smith was tracked down by police at the Cinemark movie theater parking lot where he died in a shootout with officers. The Utah County District Attorney's Office is investigating whether Smith died because he was shot by police or if he shot himself.

The Sands family just wishes more could have been done to help Sue Ann before it got to this point.

"Sometimes a restraining order is a good way to go and nine times out of ten it works," said Jensen. "And this time obviously it didn't work."