Union, South Carolina - Susan Smith's former husband broke down in tears yesterday whiletelling a jury that all his hopes and dreams were lost when his ex-wife confessed to drowning their two young sons.
David Smith showed no emotion during the first hour of his testimony at his ex-wife's sentencing hearing. But when asked by Tommy Pope, for the prosecution, how he felt when he saw the sheriff announce her confession on television, Mr Smith hesitated and started speaking slowly.
"All my hopes, all my dreams, everything that I had planned for the rest of my life, it ended that day," he said. "I didn't know what to do. It hurt. Everything I had planned on, my life with the kids, was gone."
Mr Smith has said he favours executing his ex-wife, who was convicted on Saturday of two counts of murder. The jury must now decide whether she should receive the death penalty.
Mr Smith's testimony about his ex-wife's actions before the boys' deaths is expected to be important in the prosecution's attempt to get all 12 jurors to approve a death sentence.
The couple's divorce became final in May while Smith, 23, sat in prison awaiting trial, but Mr Smith testified that his marriage had turned bad even before their second child was born.
Mr Smith recalled his frantic drive on 25 October to meet his then wife at a house near John D Long Lake, where she first fabricated a tale that a black carjacker had abducted 14-month-old Alex and Michael, three.
It was a story she repeated to authorities and, through nationally televised pleas for the boys' safe return, to the American public. Nine days later, on 3 November, she confessed to drowning the boys by rolling her car into the lake with them inside. Smith's lawyers are expected to question her ex-husband about allegations of his adultery and a book deal. He has said he will give royalties to children's charities but will keep a $20,000 advance.
"I just don't know if he can create the kind of sympathy for the boys or make the jurors mad enough to kill her when he's got the book coming and his chequered past," said Pete Partee, a criminal lawyer who is following the trial.