Saturday 17 March 2018

Homesick Jason wanted to move back to Ireland, sister tells trial

Molly Martens Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse where she is on trial with her father Thomas Martens for the second degree murder of her husband Jason Corbett. Picture: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse where she is on trial with her father Thomas Martens for the second degree murder of her husband Jason Corbett. Picture: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The sister of Jason Corbett (39) revealed he was homesick and lonely in the United States and wanted to move back to Ireland in time for his son's secondary school education.

Tracey Lynch told a North Carolina murder trial her brother had mentioned moving back to Ireland as early as 2014, just three years after his relocation to the US and more than 12 months before his death.

Thomas Martens (67) and his daughter, Molly Martens-Corbett (33), deny the second degree murder of Mr Corbett on August 2, 2015.

Mr Corbett's wife and father-in-law argued they acted in self-defence at the Panther Creek property and claimed Mr Corbett had attacked Ms Martens-Corbett and threatened to kill her.

The Limerick packaging industry executive died from catastrophic skull injuries inflicted by at least 12 blows in the bedroom of his home.

One of the blows was inflicted after Mr Corbett had stopped breathing.

Both the father and daughter were found to be uninjured at the scene by police and paramedics.

Mrs Lynch said she was surprised when Ms Martens-Corbett messaged her in 2015 to ask her about the date for the 80th birthday of Mr Corbett's father.

"I was surprised she was asking me and not asking Jason," she said.

Mrs Lynch said her brother had not mentioned to her about Ms Martens-Corbett returning to Ireland with him.

"He was homesick and lonely. He had good friends (in North Carolina) and he appreciated them. He planned to move back to Ireland before Jack (his son) started secondary school."

Mrs Lynch said her brother planned to be in Ireland for his father's 80th birthday party - but had not mentioned that his wife would be with him.

"Jason never told me Molly was returning for the birthday. Jason said it was himself and the children," she added.


Mrs Lynch is now bringing up her brother's two children, Jack and Sarah.

She also told the Davidson County Superior Court how her brother had desperately fought to save his first wife and mother of his two children, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, when she suffered a severe asthma attack in 2006.

"She couldn't breathe," she said. "Jason rang 911 (999) and put her in the car to drive her to hospital. On the way she stopped breathing.

"Jason then stopped the car and started cardiac pulmonary resuscitation. He brought her back."

Tragically, Mrs Corbett subsequently died on her way to hospital in an ambulance which reached the scene.

Mrs Lynch said she helped, with her husband David, to care for her brother's two children, Jack and Sarah, before he advertised for an au pair.

She said she was out of Ireland when her brother hired Ms Martens-Corbett - and met her for the first time in 2008.

A relationship developed and they married in Tennessee in 2011.

Read More: Jason was 'close to floor' when he was struck in head, expert tells court

Her brother then got a job in North Carolina in 2011 with the firm he worked for in Ireland.

She said they remained in very close contact - she would visit North Carolina with her husband and children while Jason would travel to Ireland with his family every year.

Mrs Lynch confirmed that her brother had intended to visit Limerick in the days before their father's 80th birthday on September 2, 2015.

Yesterday, a colleague of Mr Corbett said she saw no injury to his wife Ms Martens-Corbett when she arrived at his workplace two days after his death to collect his personal belongings.

Melanie Crook, an executive with Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS) at Lexington, said she was with Ms Martens-Corbett for 20 minutes on August 4, 2015, and spotted no injury to the young Tennessee woman.

Mr Corbett was plant manager at the time.

"We were told on the Monday morning of his death (August 3). But we had not heard much at that time."

Ms Crook said a phone call was received that Mr Corbett's wife wanted to collect his personal belongings.

She arrived at the plant with her mother, Sharon, and her uncle, on Tuesday, August 4 - 48 hours after her husband's death.

Ms Martens-Corbett was wearing a T-shirt, jeans, sandals and had her hair tied up.

The style of T-shirt allowed the MPS executive a clear view of Ms Martens-Corbett's neck and throat.

"We had a 20-minute chat," Ms Crook said. "I did give her a hug."

Ms Crook said all Mr Corbett's belongings were boxed and a list was provided for Ms Martens-Corbett which she was asked to sign for.

"I saw no injuries," she told the trial. "I didn't observe any scrapes, scratches, bruises or swellings."

A forensic expert at the trial said that blood spatters on the clothing of Thomas Martens and Molly Martens-Corbett indicate they were both in proximity to Jason Corbett while his head was struck close to the floor.

Blood pattern expert Dr Stuart James said impact spatters of the Irish businessman's blood on the inside hem of Mr Martens's boxer shorts and the lower leg portion of Ms Martens-Corbett's pyjama bottoms indicate both were close to him while he sustained a blow to his head at a time it was close to the floor of the bedroom of his North Carolina home.

Dr James said he believed Mr Corbett was struck multiple times by the brick.

"The presence of blood on all surfaces of the brick are not consistent with a single blow," he declared.

In the case of Mr Martens, Dr James told the second degree murder trial that the impact blood spatter pattern on the inside hem of the left front of a pair of his white patterned boxer shorts indicate the defendant was standing above Mr Corbett when his son-in-law's head was struck.

Today, Judge David Lee will rule on the admissibility of a statement from Thomas Martens, in which he claimed he was told by the father of Jason Corbett's first wife that he was responsible for her death.

He will also rule on whether statements from Mr Corbett's two children, Jack and Sarah, should be allowed into evidence.

In the first statement, Mr Martens said he was approached by Michael Fitzpatrick and told Jason was responsible for the tragic death of Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick.

"(Mr Martens was) approached by Michael Fitzpatrick (since deceased), the father of Jason Corbett's first wife ... he believed that Jason had caused the death of his daughter."

David Freedman, for Mr Martens, stressed they were not suggesting that this was what had actually occurred, but that it reflected on the state of mind Mr Martens was in when he claimed he struck Mr Corbett in self-defence.

However, Ina Stanton, for the prosecution, objected to the statement being allowed on the basis it was both highly prejudicial and inflammatory.

Ms Stanton also pointed out that Mr Fitzpatrick, before his death, made a sworn statement to a solicitor denying that he had ever made such a remark.

Irish Independent

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