Thursday 22 February 2018

Highly emotional scenes in courtroom as Jason Corbett finally gets justice

Molly Martens, Thomas Martens and inset Jason Corbett
Molly Martens, Thomas Martens and inset Jason Corbett
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The low wails of Molly Martens-Corbett were in stark contrast to the soft sobs of the jury members.

Five jurors of the North Carolina murder trial openly wept during first the delivery of their verdict and, 15 minutes later, again during the emotion-charged sentencing hearing in the vast courtroom.

The jury was comprised of nine women and three men, most middle aged and several retired. For four weeks, no one in North Carolina envied them their task in a case marked as much by the brutality of its evidence as by its sheer level of human tragedy.

Directly across the courtroom from the jury box, Ms Martens-Corbett first put her head in her hands when Judge David Lee asked the jury foreman to confirm that both the father and daughter were unanimously found guilty of the second degree murder of her husband, Jason Corbett (39).

Then, Ms Martens Corbett let out a stifled wail and several sobs.

One of her lawyers, Cheryl Andrews, tried in vain to comfort her.

The young woman turned to stare at her mother, Sharon, and cried aloud. "I'm really sorry mom - I wish he'd just killed me."

Other members of the extended Martens family began to cry.

Retired FBI agent Thomas Martens, who cast a despairing look at his daughter's distress, did his best to remain calm and impassive.

Immaculately dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie, as he has been for every part of the 16-day trial, he paused to quickly glance behind him at his wife, Sharon, and son, Connor.

Then he stood, immediately on being approached by a Davidson County bailiff, and held both his arms out directly behind him so that they could be handcuffed. After more than 40 years in the FBI and then the counter-intelligence section of a Federal agency, he knew the custody drill.

His daughter was also taken into custody by a female bailiff on the application of Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin to Judge Lee.

Less than five metres away, members of the Corbett family embraced, cried, comforted each other and shook hands with well wishers who whispered: "Justice for Jason."

But they were also deeply dignified and respectful - mindful of the fact Mr Martin had told the court that the day was about "grief, grief and more grief".

They were also aware that no sentence was ever going to bring back a beloved son, brother and uncle.

Sharon Martens wept uncontrollably as her husband was led away in handcuffs and had to be comforted by her brother, Michael Earnest, who is a Federal employee involved in the reconstruction effort for Afghanistan.

Fifteen minutes after the father and daughter were led out of the court in custody, they were brought back in again to learn they must spend between 20 and 25 years in a North Carolina prison for the Irish businessman's murder.

The young, beautiful, blonde former model and swim coach that Jason Corbett married in 2011 will be 53-years-old when she is released from custody unless she wins a possible appeal.

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

Ms Martens-Corbett once again became distressed, sobbing and crying as her brother, seated directly behind her in the public gallery, wept so loudly he had to virtually hold his head in his lap as his mother and uncle tried to comfort him.

Mr Martens declined an invitation by the court to speak.

He was again impassive as he was led away in handcuffs to be processed for transfer to a North Carolina prison.

However, Ms Martens-Corbett, on being asked by Judge Lee whether she had anything to say, spoke in a voice that was almost incoherent due to stifled sobs and cries.

She said the events of August 2, 2015 were only different to previous dates in that her father was present.

"I did not murder Jason," she said.

"My father did not murder Jason."

Outside the rear entrance to Davidson County courthouse, on the junction with Salem Street in central Lexington, there was no sense of triumph as parties wearied from the four-week trial left through a throng of TV cameras and photographers.

There was only a sense that two young Irish children, having been robbed of their mother due to a tragic illness, were cruelly deprived nine years later of the father who adored them.

Irish Independent

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