Judge dismisses application to strike out murder charges against Martens
A US judge dismissed applications to strike out murder charges against a father and daughter over the death of an Irish businessman.
Judge David Lee rejected applications from the defence teams of both Thomas Michael Martens (67) and Molly Martens Corbett (33) for the second degree murder charges against them to be dismissed after the prosecution case concluded.
Both deny the second degree murder of Limerick father of two Jason Corbett (39) on August 2 2015.
Mr Corbett died from catastrophic skull injuries after sustaining at least 12 blows to the head from a baseball bat and a brick in the master bedroom of his Panther Creek home in North Carolina.
Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown opposed the dismissal motions and said the totality of the evidence offered by the prosecution meant it should be allowed go to the jury.
The State case closed on the 12th day of the trial and after hearing from 21 witnesses.
A jury of nine women and three men have been hearing the case for which jury selection began on July 17.
"The physical evidence in this case overwhelmingly and absolutely goes against that this was self defence for Thomas Martens and Molly Martens Corbett," Mr Brown said.
He said the injuries sustained by Jason Corbett (39), the forensic evidence, the lack of injuries to the two defendants and other testimony runs against the claims of Mr Martens and Ms Martens Corbett over precisely what happened.
Judge Lee ruled that, having carefully considered the matter and the legal arguments involved, said there was "substantial" grounds to deny the motions from both defendants.
The jury will now be asked to consider a verdict once the defence cases conclude.
Judge Lee was then informed that evidence would be offered by the defence teams.
It remains unclear whether the father and daughter will offer sworn evidence.
Both David Freedman, for Mr Martens, and Walter Holton, for Ms Martens Corbett, said it was clear from the prosecution evidence that the issue involved was self defence.
They also claimed that Mr Corbett was clearly the aggressor in the incident on August 2.
"I would contend there is no evidence to show malice - and no criminal offence," Mr Freedman said.
"Mr Martens was acting in self defence and getting anything else before the jury would be speculation at this point."
"The State, even by their own admission, (indicate) it would go towards excessive force and nothing else."
"The State doesn't have a theory in this case - the State's whole theory is to disprove the defence case. But the State has to provide credible evidence of malice."
Mr Holton, for Ms Martens Corbett, said it was clearly an issue of self-defence.
"The evidence is clear and clean and it is 100pc self defence."
"The evidence is so overwhelming there is nothing but self-defence in the State case," Mr Holton said.
"There is nothing to contradict that Mr Corbett was the aggressor."
"There needs to be some physical hard evidence as regards who started this confrontation."
"All of the evidence is that he (Mr Corbett) was the aggressor with murderous or felonious intent."
"It is an issue of self defence."
"Everything they put forward is consistent with what Mr Martens and Ms Martens Corbett said."
"This was an altercation, the evidence was overwhelming that Mr Corbett started it, the evidence is overwhelming that this was self defence for these two defendants," Mr Holton said.
Charges of voluntary manslaughter against the father and daughter were dropped on the opening day of the trial last month.