Takesha Barnes wanted protection from her ex-boyfriend just long enough so that she and her children could flee back to her native Omaha.
Barnes never made it home.
Thomas Lamont Moton, 39, gunned down Barnes in a parking lot outside a school in Avondale, Ariz., where she was attending a daughter's graduation.
Moton was sentenced Friday in Arizona to life in prison, the maximum penalty he could receive. He was convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend, mother of his two children.
Barnes and Moton had a history of domestic violence, family members said.
Just four days before her May 25 death, Barnes petitioned for a restraining order, saying Moton had sent threatening text messages, physically abused her and forced her to add his name to their son's birth certificate.
“I am scared for our safety and what will happen to us in the near future,” Barnes wrote in the petition.
“I plan to leave the state of Arizona within the next two weeks to prevent anything further occurring as I feel he will cause physical and emotional harm to me and my children.”
Barnes had just left an eighth-grade graduation ceremony with her three children.
Moton approached her parked vehicle and fired three rounds through the windshield, striking and killing Barnes.
Surveillance video showed that Moton had arrived in the parking lot, shielded by the other vehicles, about 30 minutes before Barnes left the school building, said Detective Sgt. Bill Rademacher of the Avondale Police Department.
Sarah Chillous of Omaha, legal guardian for two of Barnes' three children, said Moton and Barnes' relationship began in 2001.
The two met through Moton's sister in Omaha, and Barnes eventually followed Moton to Arizona.
Their fights — Moton was arrested in 2007 after Barnes' nose was broken — drove her back to Omaha in 2010.
But Chillous said Barnes was miserable.
She had two children with Moton, and the allure of reuniting their family drew her back to Arizona in 2011.
“Kesha was a very tortured soul,” Chillous said. “She wanted to be loved, and he preyed on that weakness of hers.”
Thomas Moton lived in Nebraska as a child. After his mother, Annie Moton, 38, was shot and killed by her boyfriend in their Omaha home in 1991, he moved to Arizona with his sister.
Jackie Grayson of Omaha, Moton's cousin, said family members in both Phoenix and Omaha worried about the couple's relationship.
“Family kept telling her to leave him alone,” Grayson said. “And this last time, he just snapped.”
Barnes' children, LaMeka, Cierra and Da'Von, currently live with Chillous, their godmother.
“They're doing excellent, considering the circumstances,” she said.