'Indicators' show that Molly Martens planned brutal killing of Jason Corbett as graphic new images show the tragic events
- Police and prosecutors were deeply concerned over "indicators" the tragic events in the master bedroom early that morning may not have been from an impromptu confrontation that tragically escalated out of control
- Concerns over sedative and brick on nightstand
- First degree murder charges were considered against Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens
Authorities were so concerned Jason Corbett's killing had been planned that they considered first-degree murder charges against Molly Martens-Corbett (33) and her father Thomas Michael Martens (67).
The Davidson County Sheriff's Office investigation file on the August 2, 2015, killing at Panther Creek was carefully studied by Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank and his team.
The Irish Independent has now learned both police and prosecutors were deeply concerned over "indicators" the tragic events in the master bedroom early that morning may not have been from an impromptu confrontation that tragically escalated out of control.
The presence of the powerful sedative trazodone in Mr Corbett's system, a medication which was prescribed to his wife just two days beforehand.
The unexpected visit to the Corbett home of Martens-Corbett's parents on August 1, and the fact up to half a dozen calls were received by the elderly couple from their daughter while en route from Knoxville that night.
The fact Martens-Corbett inexplicably kept a brick on her nightstand table.
The presence of a large impact blood spatter on the quilt and underneath the box mattress, indicating Mr Corbett may have been asleep in bed when first struck.
The fact Martens brought a metal Louisville Slugger baseball bat to the Corbett home on August 1. It was, he said, a present for Jack Corbett, then aged 10, but he never gave it to the boy that night.
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An ongoing and bitter dispute between Mr Corbett, his wife and her family over his refusal to sign adoption papers to allow her equal rights to his two children by his first wife.
Indications Mr Corbett was planning to travel to Limerick to attend his father's 80th birthday party with his children but without his wife. Martens-Corbett was apparently concerned the children would not return with him.
Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin said it was possible Martens-Corbett had spiked a mint mojito drink given to her husband on August 1 but failed to properly dose him with the sedative.
"Why didn't they stop [the assault] - why didn't they stop? Even when he was lying dead on the bedroom floor," he said.
Ultimately, it was decided to proceed with second-degree murder charges against the father and daughter, with a fall-back charge option for the jury of voluntary manslaughter.
In North Carolina, a conviction for first-degree murder can carry the death penalty.
If the death penalty is not imposed, those convicted face the prospect of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
The Corbett family paid glowing tribute to the Davidson County Sheriff's Office under Sheriff David S Grice and the Davidson County District Attorney's Office under Mr Frank.
As the father and daughter began their sentences, new pictures emerged of the aftermath of the brutal killing. They include images of the crime scene and the brick and baseball bat used in the murder. There are also pictures of a bedraggled-looking Martens-Corbett, wearing just pyjamas and a fur coat, on the night her husband was killed.
Martens-Corbett told police that very night that her husband had "started choking me".
"At some point, I screamed as loud as possible. He covered my mouth and then started choking me again with his arm," the killer claimed. But the sheer violence of the assault on Mr Corbett was a crucial part of the evidence, as was the experience of emergency services who attended the scene.
Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown said the evidence "clearly suggested" both the father and daughter waited until Mr Corbett died before calling 911 - and then engaged in a shocking "fake" CPR effort while a 911 operator listened on the phone line. Mr Frank said the prosecution took nothing for granted in the complex case, which hinged on circumstantial evidence.
"I thought the court prosecutors did a really good job here. They got all the relevant evidence in so the jury could have a true and accurate picture to consider," Mr Frank said.
Mr Frank, who has been Davidson County District Attorney for more than 20 years, said such cases are impossible to predict. "We believe justice prevailed in this matter based on the evidence that was presented, in particular the forensic evidence." Mr Frank confirmed prosecutors considered very carefully the horrific injuries sustained by Mr Corbett - and the fact that, despite their self-defence argument, both Martens-Corbett and her father were uninjured at the scene.
"This was a particularly extreme injury [sustained to Mr Corbett's skull]," he said.
"[Even for] an assault with a bat and a brick - that was a factor in the case."
Pathology evidence indicated Mr Corbett's skull was struck even after he was dead.
Out of respect for Jason Corbett's family, the Irish Independent has not published certain graphic images of the crime scene.