Wednesday 18 September 2019

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

Thomas Martens and his daughter Molly Martens Corbett. Inset Jason Corbett
Thomas Martens and his daughter Molly Martens Corbett. Inset Jason Corbett

Ralph Riegel

A blood pattern expert said blood impact spatters on the clothing of both Thomas Martens (67) and Molly Martens Corbett (33) indicate they were both in proximity to Jason Corbett (33) while his head was struck close to the floor.

Forensic expert Dr Stuart James said impact spatters of Mr Corbett's blood on the inside hem of Mr Martens boxer shorts and the lower leg portion of Ms Martens Corbett's pyjama bottoms indicate both were close to the Irish businessman while he sustained a blow to his head when it was close to the floor.

Both the father and daughter deny the second degree murder of Mr Corbett on August 2 2015.

Both have argued they acted in self-defence.

In the case of Mr Martens, a lawyer and retired FBI agent, Dr James said 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.

"The significance of the impact spatters was that the head of Jason Corbett was close to the floor of the bedroom."

Dr James said the wearer of the boxer shorts was in proximity to Mr Corbett and was also above him.

"To what extent (above) I cannot say - but they (blood spatters) would have to be travelling somewhat upwards."

The family home in Panther Creek Court in Wallburg where Jason Corbett and his wife Molly Martens (inset) lived with his children
The family home in Panther Creek Court in Wallburg where Jason Corbett and his wife Molly Martens (inset) lived with his children

In the case of Ms Martens Corbett's blue-patterned pyjamas bottoms, blood impact spatters on the lower leg of the fabric indicate she was in proximity to her Limerick husband when his skull was struck at a time when it was close to the ground.

"He was close to the floor when a blow was struck to his head," he said.

Dr James, a Florida-based expert, previously told a Davidson County murder trial he found blood spatters on the inside of the quilt on Mr Corbett's bed, in addition to a blood saturation mark inside the box spring mattress.

He said they may well have been from the first blow struck on August 2 2015.

Those impact spatter patterns indicate Mr Corbett was either in bed or close to the bed when he was struck

Dr James examined the home where Mr Corbett sustained at least 12 severe blows to his skull.

The multiple blood traces required him to separate the scene into 15 different areas for examination.

Dr James also said a careful analysis of the multiple blood spatters and stains in the bedroom, hallway and bathroom of Mr Corbett's Panther Creek home indicated that, at one point, the father of two suffered multiple blows as he was falling to the ground.

"There was a pattern of impact spatters on the (inside of) the quilt," he said.

"There was also a small saturation stain on the skirting of the box spring (mattress)."

"It may well be where the first incident of bloodshed occurred."

Dr James said he noted a number of indentation marks on the walls of the bedroom and hallway - indicating the walls were struck by a hard object.

He said the house contained large impact blood spatters, transfer blood marks and blood stains where a damaged body part had laid.

He also found patterns where blood had been sprayed by a blood-covered object being swung.

Critically, Dr James noted that, in one area, blood spatter patterns indicated Mr Corbett's head was impacted as he was falling to the ground.

One impact spatter occurred just inches off the floor - indicating Mr Corbett's head was either on or near the floor.

"These patterns are consistent with the impact on Mr Corbett as he was descending to the floor."

One impact blood spatter on the wall was at a height of around 5ft.

Other impact blood spatter patterns were at a height of 3ft.

The final one noted was less than 12 inches from the floor.

Dr James also noted a number of blood transfer patterns on the walls, one of which appeared to be from a bloody hand.

He noted two blood-covered objects in the bedroom, a Louisville Slugger metal baseball bat and a stone garden paving brick.

Dr James noted that the brick left a blood outline on the bedroom carpet when it was moved.

He said that, in his opinion, the quantity of blood on the brick could not have been from just a single blow to Mr Corbett's skull.

"There were hairs on the brick and what appeared to be tissue fragments," he said.

"There was blood on almost every particular surface of that object."

"In my opinion it is consistent with more than one impact because of the distribution of blood on all (the brick) edges."

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

Dr James noted that one element of the scene at the Panther Creek home had been changed.

He said a vacuum cleaner which was standing upright had been clearly lying on its side at one point.

"The flow patterns are defying gravity," he said.

"The flow pattern on the cleaner is going sideways."

"They are significant because they tell me the vacuum cleaner was on its side (at one point)."

"It shows alteration of the scene prior to these photographs being taken."

A blood transfer pattern on the bedroom wall is also consistent with Mr Corbett's head having impacted on it as he fell.

Dr James said it appeared Mr Corbett was lying on his face and stomach when a lot of the heavier quantities of blood were left on the carpet.

He was later moved onto his back.

The trial before Judge David Lee and a jury of nine women and three men continues.

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