'Molly will be remembered as a murderer who killed my dad for no reason'
Jury weeps as powerful victim statement from Jason's son read to court, writes Ralph Riegel
The carefully written words of Jason Corbett's eldest child Jack (13), read out to court, was perhaps the most poignant moment of the entire trial.
The victim impact statement, painstakingly written by the Limerick schoolboy, was read out to the hushed Courtroom C of the Davidson County courts complex as his step-mother and step-grandfather were jailed for a minimum of 20 years for the second-degree murder of his father (39), two years ago.
"Molly Martens will not be forgotten," Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin read from the boy's statement.
"She will always be remembered as a woman who killed her husband for no reason.
"She will be remembered as a murderer."
Five jury members, who moments earlier had delivered unanimous guilty verdicts for second-degree murder on Martens-Corbett and her father Thomas Martens (67), began to weep as Mr Martin continued with the Irish schoolboy's letter.
At one point, the assistant district attorney had to pause and compose himself as the letter became heart-rending.
"Now, I just want to make my dad and my family proud," the boy wrote. However, he said that losing his father, just nine years after the tragic death from asthma of his mother, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, was very difficult.
But he stressed the incredible love of his aunt and uncle, Tracey and David Lynch, as well as his other aunt and uncles, had helped himself and his sister Sarah to cope. He also praised the love and support of his Limerick grandparents.
Jack wrote that his Irish family had helped them through the difficult times since 2015.
"One thing she [Martens-Corbett] is not a part of and never will be a part of is the Corbett family. She has put this burden on our family and it will not be lifted until she is put away," he said.
Jack said it was very upsetting to realise that his father will not be around to see him score a try in rugby or see himself or his sister get engaged and get married.
"My dad was always there for me. I don't have that anymore.
"But I will never be able to give him a hug or a card on Father's Day," Jack wrote.
"He won't see me grow up."
Mr Corbett's sister Tracey Lynch told the court of the trauma her family had endured, firstly over the brutal nature of her younger brother's death and then the fact the Martens family, just days later, had sent adoption papers to the Limerick family on Martens-Corbett's behalf.
Weeks later, when Jack and Sarah were allowed to return to Ireland by a North Carolina court after a bitter custody hearing, the family were horrified to discover the Martens family had tried to contract an aviation firm to fly an aircraft over the children's school complete with a banner and details of how to contact Martens-Corbett (33) in the US.
Mrs Lynch said there were also repeated attempts on social media to contact the children.
"They [the children] are now painfully aware there is violence and evil in the world," she said.
Mrs Lynch described her brother as generous, kind, loving and utterly devoted to his family, children and friends.
She said the horrific circumstances of his death still give his family nightmares.
"How long did he lay there before he took his last breath?" she asked. "Our hearts will never heal. Did he cry out?"
"It [the murder] took their [the children's] innocence and took their security and it made them orphans.
"We sat here [in the trial] and listened to how he died and those memories will never leave us. Our baby brother did not deserve this cruelty."
The prosecution claimed the father and daughter deliberately delayed calling 911 to make sure he was dead - and then engaged in "fake" cardiac-pulmonary resuscitation when told by a 911 operator.
Worse still, Mrs Lynch said, they learned about his death in a brief 30-second phone call from Sharon Martens. After the call, the Corbett family desperately tried to contact her, Molly Martens-Corbett or Mr Martens for information.
"We tried desperately to ring back. But there was not one word. Not one call. Not one letter," she said.
Mr Corbett's mother Rita, in a submission read by Tracey, said it was very difficult to keep going given the horror of her son's killing. "Our lives will go on. But Jason died in a cruel and brutal way. It was inhumane and it was barbaric. I would ask the court to give Molly and Thomas Martens the same leniency they gave my son," she said.
Mr Corbett's brother Wayne, sister Tracey, her husband David Lynch, other family members as well as friends and supporters attended every day of the North Carolina murder trial, which opened on July 17.
Mr Corbett's elderly parents John and Rita said they had been "praying for justice".
Poignantly, it emerged during the North Carolina murder trial that Mr Corbett was killed just three weeks before he had been planning to fly back to Limerick with his children to mark his father's 80th birthday in 2015.
Speaking outside the court after sentencing had been passed, Mrs Lynch added: "Jason was unarmed, he was struck when he was lying down in the middle of the night. Two people battered him until he was dead and then battered him even more. One of them swung a heavy metal baseball bat at Jason. One of them used a brick - a brick that had been on her night-stand.
"We found those details so unbelievable. Who keeps a brick on their night-stand? We were worried the jury might not find the two accused guilty but they did and we thank them for it. We thank them for the... vindication of Jason."
Meanwhile in Limerick, Wayne Corbett said he was still processing the news of the verdict.
"It's been a long two years," he said speaking at his parents' home in Janesboro. "We're just delighted as a family that the whole ordeal is over and done with, and that they have been found guilty."
This moment, he agreed, was "bittersweet".
"We're delighted it's finally at an end. It's not a celebration - Jason is still gone - but finally people have been found guilty, and justly so, for murdering Jason," he said.
"It's been a great relief for my elderly parents that this has finally come to an end.
"Hopefully, we can start to try to put this behind us and start to concentrate and grieve for Jason."
He said Mr Corbett's children were being well taken care of by their family in Limerick.
"They're going to school, they're fine, they're very good," he said.