"I STABBED him in the chest with a knife."

It was the phone call which would change Lena Kasparian's life forever and see her dubbed as "Australia's Black Widow".

In May 2011, her partner Marc Zartarian had just physically attacked her in the kitchen of her home as her two young children watched on.

She pulled out a knife to scare him off, but he'd lunged at it anyway, resulting in it piercing his chest and Ms Kasparian facing murder charges.

In a new interview with 60 Minutes, the fashion designer, 39, detailed the harrowing events of that fateful night.

While the couple had seemed happy to the outside world, their relationship was in turmoil amid Mr Zartarian's spiralling alcohol and drug use. But when Ms Kasparian asked him to leave in order to protect her two young kids, he pleaded with her to change her mind.

"He'd cry and he's like, 'I have no-one else, you're the only one I trust, you're the only one I have' - and I felt sorry for him," she told Nine reporter Tara Brown.

 

It was a tumultuous relationship.
It was a tumultuous relationship.

Then on May 1, 2011, Ms Kasparian had been forced to leave a family event earlier because her boyfriend was drunk again and she knew if they stayed, he'd "embarrass" and "humiliate" her.

On the drive home, she recalled, he was "out of control".

She initially forced Mr Zartarian to stay outside to "cool off", but he kept "yelling and hurling abuse and trying to kick the door in".

So Ms Kasparian let him back inside.

Immediately, she realised from the look on his face that "it just wasn't him anymore".

The pair went into the kitchen, and she asked him: "What's wrong with you? Why are you behaving like this?"

Mr Zartarian had pushed his girlfriend around in the past, but at that moment, he did something he'd never done before: he slapped her in the face.

After Ms Kasparian told him he needed to leave, he picked up a saucepan from the sink. Just as her three-year-old son and five-year-old daughter ran into the room, he hit her over the head with "full force".

So violent was the blow, it left the saucepan "damaged and misshapen".

 

A crime scene photo of the damaged saucepan.
A crime scene photo of the damaged saucepan.

"I'll never forget my kids screaming," Ms Kasparian told 60 Minutes.

"You know, having my son wrapped around my leg, screaming and crying, and my daughter trying to protect me, kicking Marc from behind, telling him, 'leave my Mummy alone'."

In a moment of desperation, Ms Kasparian reached for something - anything - that she could use to protect herself, and fumbled across the 16cm knife she'd been using the night before.

"At that point, he saw the knife in my hand, and then he started pacing and chest out, and he just kept saying, 'All right, stab me. Do it. Go on, stab me. Do it. Do it,'" Ms Kasparian explained.

"It's like, that's not the reaction I was waiting for, I was waiting for him to just sort of walk away."

At that point, Mr Zartarian lunged towards his partner, and they both realised the tip of the knife had stabbed him.

"We just looked at each other with this sort of gasp, and like, 'Ahh'," she said.

"I was frozen. It's like time just stopped. We just had that eye-to-eye connection, and I think I had that shock in my face, where I was like, 'Oh my God. What just happened?'"

Even after Ms Kasparian had called 000, she still didn't believe the injury was that serious.

"There was no force. He was alive, he wasn't dead. There was no blood gushing anywhere, there was nothing, it was just a tiny, little cut - 14mm."

It was an impossibly tiny wound - smaller than a paperclip - but in an incredible stroke of misfortune, managed to miss his cartilage and ribs and instead pierce his heart.

 

It was just the very tip of the knife that penetrated his skin.
It was just the very tip of the knife that penetrated his skin.

Thanks to Ms Kasparian's own words on the emergency call, when police showed up they had no choice but to arrest her for grievous bodily harm.

"As much as I was the victim in that situation, they, at that point, thought that Marc was the victim. So I just wanted to explain to them that this is what happened, this is the situation, and I was - I was cuffed," Ms Kasparian explained.

Mr Zartarian fell into a coma, but six days later, had his life support switched off.

On the day of his funeral, Kasparian's charge was upgraded to murder and she was told she was facing 20 years in prison.

While she regretted picking up the knife, Ms Kasparian also recognised that if she hadn't, it may have resulted in her own death.

"If I didn't pick up the knife, would he have picked up the knife and used it against me? So, it was just an instant reaction to defend myself and to try to scare him off."

Thankfully for her, Ms Kasparian's claim of self-defence was accepted by the jury and she was acquitted of murder after just three days of hearings in September 2012.

But it would take much longer for the emotional scars of the whole process to heal, especially given the media's earlier portrayal of her as some kind of calculated murderer.

Reflecting on why she was given the "Black Widow" moniker, Ms Kasparian explained that it was likely her lack of outward emotion: "Am I supposed to wail and cry like a crazy person to make people feel sorry for me?. I'm not going to be someone I'm not just to prove a point."

 

Ms Kasparian outside court in 2012.
Ms Kasparian outside court in 2012.

* 1800RESPECT - 1800 737 732 National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service

* If you or someone you know is experiencing a personal crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14


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