By Pauleen Le

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The sister of a St. Paul woman killed in a domestic violence situation is speaking out, hoping to help others.

Prosecutors charged Mark Bell with shooting and killing his girlfriend, Latifa Brown, back in January.

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Buffye Brown can still remember the night when police knocked on her door.

“They said she had been shot,” she said. “It ended my world.”

Latifa Brown (credit: CBS)

Brown said she thinks about her sister every day and the life she could have had. She said Latifa wanted to become a nurse and raise a family.

“Have that life of getting married and having the happiness and the joy,” she said

Brown said her sister was trying to find that happiness with Bell.

“I knew something was wrong,” she said.

She said the two dated for about 11 years, but the physical and mental abuse only got worse.

“The moment he put her hands on her for the first time with a belt, I knew right then,” she explained.

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Brown said her home was a haven for her sister to get away when things got really bad.

“Like always she would only stay a day [or] two days and then she left,” she said. “She’d tell us too, ‘Oh he bought me flowers,’ or you know, ‘he said he was sorry.’”

Brown said no matter what she’d try to say, Latifa always went back.

“I think Latifa was one of those women out there who believed that you can change them, or you believe that if you wait around long enough that they’ll change themselves, that they’ll get help,” she said.

But things never changed until the police told her it was too late.

“I said, ‘No, you’re lying,’” she said. “‘I just spoke to her,’ and they were like, ‘No, we’re sorry,’ and I was like, ‘No.”

Brown encourages anyone in a similar situation to find help.

“Your life matters to people who love you [and] for those you love,” she said.” “You deserve so much more than that. You’re worthy of greatness. Latifa’s life, she was worthy of greatness.”

The Brown family is raising money through a GoFundMe to fight for custody of Latifa’s 1-year-old son whom she had with Bell.

The baby is currently staying with Bell’s family.

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Domestic Violence Resources: For anonymous, confidential help, people can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.

Pauleen Le