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'It was my life or his': Woman who shot and killed husband speaks publicly for first time

A Franklin County grand jury has cleared Jillian Caplinger of wrongdoing in her husband's killing.

A woman who shot and killed her husband last year is speaking publicly for the first time.

A Franklin County grand jury has cleared Jillian Caplinger of wrongdoing in her husband's killing.

Jillian says her marriage to Frank was born of genuine love.

"He was so sweet and kind and I had so much fun with him when we were first together," she said.

Just one week into that marriage, she says everything changed.

"Once I started finding out lies and stuff that was going on that he was hiding from me, I didn't want no part of it anymore. I wanted away from it," Jillian said. "That day that I asked him for the annulment and tried to walk out and leave, he sucker-punched me from behind and beat me and strangled me to where I couldn't escape."

Glenn McEntyre: "The first time that happens, what goes through your mind?"

Jillian Caplinger: "I was scared out of my mind. I didn't know what to do. I was terrified. I was ashamed to show my face. I didn't know what to do at that point. Because he was threatening that if I was to turn him in or go to my family about it, that he was going to go after them, too."

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She says over the next year, their life together was a constant cycle of beatings, apologies and promises and more beatings.

"People didn't understand why I would have to go back. Because if I didn't, he would come and get me. He would show up at my house, he would show up at gas stations, he would follow me," Jillian said. "So, there was no doubt in my mind that if I didn't voluntarily go back by myself, he was going to come and hurt my kids and my family."

In May of 2018, she went to police and Frank Caplinger was charged with kidnapping and domestic violence.

There were protection orders they both violated.

He was due in court on those cases the morning of September 20. The night before came a confrontation that ended with his death.

"He told me he was gonna punish me for everything and that he didn't intend on going to that court date on the 20th, and locked the front door — he had a bolt lock inside where you had to have a key, so I couldn't get out — And he started torturing me. Strangling me, beating me. I was begging and pleading with him, 'Why are you doing this? Please just let me go, let me out. Stop.'"

Over a six-hour period, she says he repeatedly choked her into unconsciousness.

Jillian Caplinger: "I knew that last time I woke up, when he ripped off his belt and started coming at me again, I wasn't going to make it out at that point. I had to figure a way out."

Glenn McEntyre: "What was that way out?"

Jillian Caplinger: "I had my gun on me. And I shot him."

Glenn McEntyre: "What happened then?"

Jillian Caplinger: "He still continued to come after me. And he landed right at my feet — beside me. I was completely covered in blood and I was in total shock. I didn't know what to do but get out of the house and get away from it."

She fled the house and called 911:

"I need a squad at (redacted) Ohio Street. I just had to shoot my husband for beating on me. He was beating me with a belt. Help me." she told the operator "He was beating me and choking me, please. send them out. I had to shoot him, please."

The next day, members of Frank's family told 10TV they didn't believe what Jillian told police.

"I'd like to see justice," said Hassel Caplinger. "I think we all would. I'd like to see her be charged for what she's done. She murdered my brother. No doubt about it, and I'd like to see her in jail."

"I saved my own life," Jillian responded. "It was my life or his. Yes, I feel bad that he's dead. No, I did not intend on killing him, but I had no choice. He took all my options away from me. He took everything from me. He almost took my life."

She is speaking publicly for two reasons: to clear her name and to warn others in violent relationships.

"Run. Run as fast as you can. If they do it once, it's never going to stop. They'll do it again," Jillian said.

Jillian wasn't the only person to accuse her husband of violence.

His previous wife, two sisters and three others applied for protection orders and accused him of threats and violence dating back to 2002.

Help is available any time for people who may be a victim of domestic or dating violence. "Where's the Line" offers resources to help people escape the danger. To learn more, click here.