WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington man is dead and another behind bars after a late-night stabbing led to the Port City's first murder of 2014.
Police say Martin Yakimovich, 32, died late last night after being stabbed. Police responded Around 11 p.m. to 318 McRae Street for a domestic dispute. When officers arrived they say they found Yakimovich on the floor of the home with stab wounds. He later died at the hospital.
Witnesses told police the stabbing happened after Yakimovich and Shelby Lentz, 19, got into an argument. Lentz ran from the house, but later turned himself into police.
Lentz is in jail charged with second-degree murder, but told WWAY in a jail-house interview Saturday that he acted in self-defense.
"I regret that he died, but I don’t regret that I did what I needed to do to protect myself and her," said Lentz.
Lentz says Yakimovich and his girlfriend were arguing all day, and it finally escalated.
"He had his hand around her neck. He came over and swung and hit me in the forehead," said Lentz. "I had a knife in my back pocket. At that point, the only thing I could think to do was to stop him. I pulled the knife out and I stabbed him in the stomach."
Lentz says Yakimovich was twice his size and three times the size of Yakimovich's former girlfriend. Lentz says stabbing him was the only way to protect himself and the girl.
"He would have killed her eventually," said Lentz. "If I had walked out of that house and left last night without doing anything, she would be the one dead and he would be the one sitting her doing this interview."
The Department of Corrections website shows Lentz was convicted of 19 criminal counts in 2011 and 2012, including assault on an officer, assault on a handicapped person, disorderly conduct, larceny and 12 counts of financial card fraud.
Lentz was also arrested in 2011 for refusing to leave an Occupy Wilmington protest outside Wilmington City Hall. He was later acquitted of charges in the case.