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'Their mom literally fought for them to the death': Family remembers mom killed in Peoria kidnapping

Brittany Martie died after she was thrown from her van while trying to protect her child as Eric Maes, her 10-month-old son’s father, drove away with her son inside.

PHOENIX — The woman killed trying to protect her young son from a kidnapping before an AMBER Alert was triggered in Peoria on Tuesday had always wanted to be a mom, family members said.

Police said Brittany Martie died after she was thrown from her van while trying to protect her child as Eric Maes, her 10-month-old son’s father, drove away with her son inside.

Martie died at the hospital from her injuries. Maes has since been caught and is now facing charges of homicide, assault, theft and kidnapping, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

She always wanted to be a mom

Cousins of Martie said since she was little, she had always wanted to be a mom.

“She always told me, ‘Some day, I’m gonna have six kids and that’s gonna be my job, and I’m going to be a mom, and I’m going to be a great mom,'” Juliann Davis, Martie’s cousin, said. “And that’s what she was.”

Martie leaves behind a son, 10-month-old Abel, and her 10-year-old daughter, Prudence.

Family members said Abel and Prudence were the most important things in her life.

“Their mom literally fought for them to the death,” Davis said.

Family and friends gathered near where Martie was found to hold her memory close and lay flowers and balloons in her honor.

“She was full of life, she was outspoken, she was fun to be around and she told you how it is,” Davis said.

An on-again, off-again relationship

Family members described Martie and Maes’ relationship as on-again, off-again, adding Maes had domestic violence cases against him involving Martie.

“She gave this guy so, so, so many chances, more than he deserved,” Trish Faras, Martie’s sister said. “We begged her and begged her and begged her (to) please get away from him and when she finally did listen it was too late.”

The family said while they had encouraged her to leave, Martie’s personality was to always help others.  

“She couldn’t let go of trying to help people, and I think that was the problem,” Jessica Yungkans, Brittany’s cousin said. “She tried to help him and she couldn’t.”

While they grieve Martie’s life, the family said they’ll be keeping her memory alive to her kids.

"She loves them with all her heart. She did. She did the best to fight for her, for her children,” Faras said.

The family is now focused on justice 

Maes was caught Wednesday by Phoenix Police.

Faras tells 12 News she’s grateful for the community calling in tips and for police for capturing Maes.

She added her family is now focused on justice for Martie. Faras said justice to the family looks like Maes “paying for what he did” through a prison sentence.  

The family has started a GoFundMe to help with legal expenses.