A former FBI agent and his daughter are speaking out about the night they killed the woman’s husband with a baseball bat, alleging that they acted in self-defense.
A North Carolina jury found Thomas Martens, 67, and 33-year-old Molly Corbett guilty of second-degree murder on Wednesday in Jason Corbett’s death. But in a pre-trial interview with ABC News, the father-daughter duo claim they killed the 39-year-old by bashing his skull after he began choking Corbett.
“He has his hands around her neck and I said, ‘Let her go,’ ” Martens said of that night on Aug. 2, 2015. “And he said, ‘I’m gonna kill her.’ ”
Jason was found naked on the floor of his bedroom with his head bashed in, according to the Washington Post. A medical examiner said Jason was struck at least 12 times in the head, leaving his skull crushed. Although Corbett has said the death followed years of abuse, the jury unanimously believed that the duo killed Jason out of malice, ABC reports.
Officials argued that Molly’s desire to adopt Jason’s two children from a previous marriage was part of the motive for the killing, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. During her interview with ABC, Corbett said the altercation that night began when she went to check on Jason’s daughter.
“I said, ‘She’s just 8. She had a nightmare. I should be allowed to go upstairs and comfort our daughter,’ ” Corbett recalled. “And he forgot my parents were there.”
Corbett said Jason attacked her, covering her mouth before choking her — “At some point, when he stopped, I screamed … And the next thing I remember is my dad standing in the doorway.”
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Martens said he isn’t sure what initially woke him that night, but he said that after hearing loud thumping, he ran upstairs with a baseball bat. He said he entered the bedroom and approached Jason before hitting him in the back of the head with the bat. But, Martens says, Corbett was still able to drag Corbett into the bathroom.
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“I’m going to do everything that I have to do to save her life,” Martens said. “And if I die trying, well … she’s my daughter. I’m not going to live with not trying. I’ll tell you that.”
Jason soon turned his attention to Martens, and Corbett feared her husband would kill her father. A brick was found in the room and Corbett initially told police that she hit Jason in the head with it — she declined to discuss that evidence with ABC.
Martens and Molly were sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison, ABC reports. Still, the woman is standing by her story, saying in court that the incidents of abuse “occurred as they did on a somewhat regular basis, the difference is that my father was there.”
It was not immediately clear if Martens and Molly Corbett planned to appeal. Defense attorneys David Freedman and Walter Holton did not respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
The full interview with be aired on ABC’s 20/20 on Friday at 10 p.m (ET).