PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - It was September 8, 2010 when Marti Hill was supposed to be at work for a meeting, but she never showed up.
Hill's co-workers insisted that police check on her. When officers got inside the Prairie Village home, they found the front door unlocked and no other signs of forced entry. Detectives found the then 44-year-old woman with at least seven stab wounds on the floor of her basement.
Marti Hill has spoken a few times over the last year and a half, but could not talk about the full details of the attack until now.
Marti Hill sat down with 41 Action News and spent almost two hours telling her story inside TMA Fitness in Overland Park. TMA is a gym where she took kickboxing classes for about year prior to the attack.
Hill said being healthy gave her the confidence and strength the fight back.
How she met her attacker
It's still hard for her to say her attacker's name.
"Brian, uh let's see, I don't usually say his first name, barely his last name, Pennington. So, he had been recommended to me by my mom. She had used him for a big project; I believe it was a year before," Hill explained. "And then maybe eight months before that, before I had him come to the house, he had done a small job for her. And no problems, she mentioned that his wife came with him sometimes. Seemed like a very nice guy."
She said Pennington had been to her home several times and was always polite.
"It was very business-like. We talked about what we needed to do the first day and we really didn't have much conversation after that. I didn't have any funny feelings. He was actually...I would describe as overly charming," said Hill.
Hill said she really didn't think twice when on the morning of September 8, 2010 she heard a knock on the door.
"That morning I heard someone at the door and looked out and it was Pennington. I remember thinking, I remember looking at the time, and it was 7:30 AM. I was going into work early. I kind of thought about, answering the door, I need to hurry, make sure this is quick. And I just kind of put a picture in my mind, I kind of thought that he must be there for, he must be in the area for a job and wanted to know if I had more work, kind of making up a little scenario. I did know he lived quite a ways away. At least an hour away," described Hill.
She said not wanting to be rude, she opened the door.
"I was a little baffled that he was there that early. So then, I answered the door. He just said he remembered seeing something in the basement he wanted to show me that he thought I should fix before I sell the house. So we walked to the basement and I remember talking, and I don't specifically remember asking him questions, but I kind of remember thinking it was odd that he wasn't saying anything," said Hill.
At that moment she said she started to feel funny.
"A few steps from the stairs, that's when he grabbed my throat. I remember it being very quick," Hill described. "There was no strangling feeling. I just couldn't speak anymore. And I remember passing out."
But somehow she woke up and fought back.
"I remember coming back and fighting at him. And then, I don't remember," Hill reflected. "I do know I was cut, I just don't remember."
She endured at least seven severe cuts and severe skull fractures. She said the medical responders could not identify her.
"They didn't know what ethnic group I was and they didn't think I would make it," explained Hill.
She was in the hospital for a several weeks. Three days after the attack she remembered who hurt her.
"It was Brian Pennington who did this," Hill told detectives.
Investigators found DNA evidence under Hill's fingernails. They also found Marti's blood on a pair of Pennington's jeans when they arrested him.
In December 2011, Brian K. Pennington was sentenced to 28 years in prison for attempted first degree murder. He is now 28-years old and serving time at the Hutchison Correctional Facility.
Coping with the attack
David DiBella with TMA fitness said he is amazed with how well Marti has recovered.
"You know Marti is not that big, but she is really strong and what is important is that she is strong mentally. She survived it, [but] not only did she survive it, she has gone back and truly wants to know what she could have done better and what she could have done to prevent it," DiBella said.
Marti said she is at peace with the fact that maybe she will never know why Pennington tried to kill her.
"I do understand that someone that thinks like that doesn't have the same kind of thinking we do, so possibly even if we do come up with something, or some motive was said, it would not make sense to us," explained Hill.
So her focus is now on sharing what she has learned.
"Your intuition is real, we are not making that up, and we are not just feeling those funny things because you have made that up in your mind. I have also learned as women we tend to downplay situations," Hill said. "We also tend to
make sure we're not rude, make sure we're doing what's polite. And I think that can get us in bad situations."
Hill said even though telling her story is tough, it's important to share.
"I feel like for me to help or to feel better, I need to get the education that I'm learning to process it all. So that I can help others so other people don't get in that situation," said Hill.
She is working on putting together a DVD with the story of what happened, how she fought back and what she has learned. Her goal is to make sure people listen to their gut feelings when they need to.
Looking back Marti said she wished she was not so focused on being rude and instead listened to her gut.
"I think that when he showed up at 7:30, it didn't make sense. Being nice isn't a sign," Hill said. "It does not equal goodness. It's not the same thing. It's a decision, you're making that decision to be nice."
Hill advises conducting a background check from a company before you let someone in your home.
If you want to hear more about her story and the DVD Click here on www.miraclemarti.com .