Tuesday 16 January 2018

How Irish-American dream ended in second tragedy for children

Molly Martens
Molly Martens
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

It was an Irish-American dream that turned into a nightmare of tragedy and death.

Far from Jason Corbett's native Limerick, the small North Carolina city of Lexington is now transfixed by a murder trial that has attracted media attention from all over the United States and Ireland.

Molly Martens (35), and her former FBI agent father Thomas (67), deny the second-degree murder of Mr Corbett, a father of two.

In deeply religious Lexington - in the heart of the south's famous 'Bible Belt' - interest in the case has been underpinned by acute sympathy for Mr Corbett's two children, Jack and Sarah.

In Lexington, any conversation about the trial involving locals invariably prompts expressions of concern for two children who lost both parents before they were 10 years old.

Having lost their mother, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, to an asthma attack in 2006 when they were aged just two and three months, the children also lost their father, Jason, on August 2, 2015.

Mr Corbett died from severe head injuries after being struck by a baseball bat at the plush Panther Creek home in North Carolina he shared with his children and second wife, who was formerly his children's nanny.

Mr Martens acknowledged that he struck his son-in-law with the bat but has maintained he acted in self-defence and to protect his daughter.

In Davidson County, the impending trial has been major news for weeks. Both the 'Lexington Dispatch' and the 'Winston-Salem Journal' devoted front-page coverage to the case - and will carry daily updates.

The case has also involved the biggest influx of national US media into Lexington since last year's US presidential election with all major networks planning to carry the trial opening by Davidson County prosecutors, Greg Brown, Alan Martin and Ina Stanton.

Judge David Lee has already ruled that no video or photographic coverage will be allowed inside his courtroom. In a city where people like to openly display both national pride and religion - almost every house in Lexington flies the Stars and Stripes while many properties also display 'Thank You Jesus' signs - such intense media attention isn't always welcome.

North Carolina is staunch Donald Trump territory and many are wary of the media.

But interest in the case has been driven by the fact it represents the polar opposite of the American Dream so cherished of immigrants.

When Irish parents move to the US to pursue the American Dream, it is supposed to be about new beginnings. For the Corbett family, the dream became a nightmare.

Irish Independent

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