Brick beside bed was 'art project' for the children
Murderer tells of distress at losing 'her kids' after she killed the Limerick father-of-two
The family of Molly Martens Corbett have claimed there was an innocent explanation for the paving slab on the night stand that was used to kill Jason Corbett.
They said the brick was part of an arts and crafts project for Jason's children which Molly Martens Corbett was helping them with in the couple's bedroom.
The bizarre presence of a heavy piece of stone in the bedroom was one of the key pieces of evidence that convinced the jury of the guilt of Molly Martens Corbett (33) and her father Thomas Martens (67), a jury foreman said after the verdict was delivered.
In an exclusive interview, her uncle, Michael Earnest, was critical that this explanation of the brick in the bedroom was not presented to the jury. Mr Earnest, a federal agent, said the family remained deeply shocked by last week's guilty verdict and outraged that certain evidence which they believe was relevant was not presented. He insisted the jury should have had a reasonable doubt about the details of Jason Corbett's murder and therefore returned a not guilty verdict.
"We had zero expectation that this would be the result," said Mr Earnest.
"I tend to be an optimist but I tried to look at it as objectively as possible. I know Tom and Molly well and what they are capable of. I know they are not capable of what the jury convicted them of.
"The State had evidence giving an explanation of why the brick was in the room. The reason was, I recall, that there was a craft thing the kids were involved in. Molly was helping them with it and they were painting the brick."
This comes as the Sunday Independent can today reveal exclusive details of an interview Molly Martens Corbett gave to this newspaper in the days after Jason Corbett was killed and she was seeking custody of his children. A decision was taken to not publish the interview while the criminal proceedings against her were ongoing.
During the conversation, Martens Corbett (33) did not mention her husband or his death. But, distressed and anxious, she cried out for Jason's orphaned children, Jack (12) and Sarah (10). The children's biological mother, Mags, died after suffering an asthma attack in 2006, but Martens Corbett insisted on calling them her children.
"I miss my children. I am very upset and I can't imagine what they are going through," she said.
"I can't imagine that anyone would think this was in their best interests, to remove them from their mother and their home and their friends. I feel like they were treated like property because they were Irish. They are human beings; they don't belong to a country. They belong with their mother."
In the days after the killing, Martens Corbett gained temporary emergency custody of Jack and Sarah Corbett, despite being described as "a person of interest" by homicide detectives investigating their father's murder.
A North Carolina court eventually ruled the children should be put in the care of Tracey and David Lynch, Mr Corbett's sister and brother-in-law. They are now being brought up by the Lynch family in Limerick after they were named testamentary guardians in Jason's will.
Jason's relatives had difficulty getting in contact with his children in the days after he was killed. It was 10 hours before news of his murder reached Limerick via a brief phone call from Martens Corbett's mother, Sharon Martens. Martens Corbett claimed the family could not reach her and the children because she felt threatened.
"I would never have denied their Irish family the chance to speak with them," she said.
Last week, she was jailed alongside her father for 20 to 25 years after they were found guilty of second-degree murder.
Her uncle still maintains Jason was choking his wife, despite the fact she was found to have no injuries, and that Martens Corbett and Thomas Martens acted in self-defence. He said the family was initially numbed by the court's decision before becoming filled with anger.
"Anger that our system failed," said Mr Earnest.
"Yes, Mr Corbett died and his injuries were terrible, how can anyone argue that? But, I will also argue that if I came in to a room and my daughter was being choked, I would do anything I could to ensure that assault was ended completely."
Mr Earnest said more evidence should have been presented to the court. He said interviews with Mr Corbett's children, which were deemed inadmissible, should have been shown to the jury and investigators at the scene should have preserved more evidence. He added Martens Corbett's decision to not offer a testimony to the court was a mistake.
"I think part of that was, and clearly we got this wrong, there seemed like so much reasonable doubt.
"Why have Molly get on the stand and then spend three times as long as Mr Martens [being questioned by prosecutors]trying to make her look like something she isn't? They treated him like a common criminal instead of someone who served his country for 40 years." Martens Corbett and her father have spoken to relatives since they left the court in chains. Mr Earnest said they will fight the conviction.