Thursday 21 September 2017

'I am really sorry, Mom – I wish that he'd just killed me'

Molly weeps as she and her father jailed for at least 20 years

Molly Martens-Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens-Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch

Ralph Riegel in Lexington

A father and daughter convicted of the murder of an Irish businessman who was brutally bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat and a brick have been jailed for a minimum of 20 years each.

Retired FBI agent Thomas Martens (67) and his daughter Molly Martens-Corbett (33), were convicted of the second-degree murder of Limerick father-of-two Jason Corbett (39) in North Carolina two years ago.

Judge David Lee jailed Martens-Corbett for between 20 and 25 years and her father was also handed a prison term of between 20 and 25 years. The precise length of both sentences will now be determined by the North Carolina Parole Board.

The father and daughter were sentenced just 15 minutes after the unanimous guilty verdict of second-degree murder was returned.

Martens-Corbett, sobbing after the verdict, turned to her family in the public gallery and said: "I'm really sorry, Mom - I wish he'd just killed me."

The Tennessee woman also wailed uncontrollably as a letter from Jack Corbett (13), Mr Corbett's son, was read out on his behalf by Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin in which he said she would always be remembered as "a murderer".

Before sentencing, Martens-Corbett delivered a barely coherent emotional outburst to the court. "My father is not a murderer," she cried out.

Tracey Lynch, Mr Corbett's sister, revealed that just days after her younger brother's murder, adoption papers were sent to his elderly parents on Martens-Corbett's behalf.

Thomas Martens Picture: Winston-Salem Journal/Walt Unks
Thomas Martens Picture: Winston-Salem Journal/Walt Unks

Read More: 'A really nice guy' who found love again, but whose life was ended in the most brutal way

After Mr Corbett's children Jack and Sarah were brought back to Ireland following a custody battle, the Martens family attempted to get an aircraft to fly over their Limerick school with a banner advertising how to contact Martens-Corbett.

Mrs Lynch said the family were now determined to have the children "protected from Molly Martens".

Mr Corbett's mother Rita, in a statement, urged the court: "Give Molly Martens and Thomas Martens the same leniency they gave my son."

Martens-Corbett's mother Sharon and brothers wept in the gallery as the verdict was returned and the sentence handed down.

Both the father and daughter were immediately taken into custody, placed in handcuffs and taken to a holding area for sentencing. Members of the Corbett family wept and embraced as the verdict was confirmed.

The jury's decision followed a dramatic four-week trial in Davidson County before Judge David Lee and a Superior Court jury of nine women and three men.

The jury had been deliberating on a verdict since 3.22pm on Tuesday.

Several jurors were overcome with emotion as the verdict was returned after three hours and 20 minutes of deliberation.

Martens-Corbett cried aloud when the unanimous guilty verdicts were returned by the jury and she had to be comforted by her lawyers.

Her father remained impassive as the guilty verdicts were delivered.

Davidson County prosecutors had claimed Mr Corbett was fatally attacked because he planned to move back to Ireland with his children Jack (10) and Sarah (8), without his second wife.

Read More: Highly emotional scenes in courtroom as Jason Corbett finally gets justice

He had refused to sign adoption papers giving his US wife equal rights to the children. His first wife, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, had died of an asthma attack in 2006 when the children were both aged less than two years.

Martens-Corbett was also the main beneficiary of a €500,000 life insurance policy on her husband.

Her father admitted he disliked his Irish son-in-law and wanted his daughter to divorce him.

The jury was told Mr Corbett was struck at least 12 times by a paving brick and an aluminium baseball bat.

The father and daughter claimed they acted in self-defence after Mr Corbett had attacked Martens-Corbett and threatened to kill her.

Yesterday, almost two years to the day since he was murdered, the jury rejected that defence and sent the pair to jail for at least 20 years.

Irish Independent

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