Saturday 16 February 2019

Judge to rule on 'calm' 911 call made by Martens to report death

Thomas Martens pictured outside Davidson County Court house. Photo: Mark Condren
Thomas Martens pictured outside Davidson County Court house. Photo: Mark Condren

Ralph Riegel

Prosecutors in the case of an American father and daughter charged with the murder of an Irish businessman want to introduce statements from a 911 emergency dispatcher who commented on the "surprisingly calm" call made about the fatal incident.

Molly Martens-Corbett (33) and her father, retired FBI agent Thomas Michael Martens (67), both deny the killing of Irish businessman Jason Corbett (39) two years ago in North Carolina.

The father and daughter have pleaded not guilty before Judge David Lee, at Davidson County Superior Court, to the second degree murder of Ms Martens-Corbett's Limerick-born husband.

It has emerged the prosecution's first witness will be the 911 emergency services operator in Davidson County who took the call from Thomas Martens in the early hours of August 2, 2015, about the circumstances in which Mr Corbett was injured. Mr Martens, in the recorded 911 call, said his son-in-law may have died after being struck in the head.

"He is bleeding all over and I may have killed him," the transcript said.

Mr Martens said in the call for help that he intervened after Mr Corbett "got in a fight with my daughter".

Both Mr Martens's and Ms Martens-Corbett's defence teams are arguing self-defence and defence of another in the incident, which occurred around 3am. It will be alleged by the defence teams that Mr Corbett was attacking his wife and that the father and daughter acted to protect themselves.

The entire transcript of the 911 call will be entered into evidence.

However, the two defence teams have now objected to supplementary prosecution submissions as to how the female 911 operator perceived Mr Martens to be during the call.

In submissions to Judge Lee, it was claimed the operator will say the former FBI agent was "surprisingly calm" and "was not out of breath".

Judge Lee must now rule on whether such opinion-based evidence will be allowed.

Mr Corbett was found dead at his Panther Creek home in North Carolina in the early hours of August 2, 2015.

He had suffered extensive head injuries in the blood-spattered upstairs bedroom of his luxury property.

These were apparently inflicted by a baseball bat and a stone paving brick.

He was pronounced dead at the scene before paramedics could rush him to hospital.

Prosecutor Alan Martin has already indicated that the trial will involve an element of alleged domestic violence.

Two of Mr Martens's three sons will be offering defence evidence in the trial. Judge Lee said he hopes opening statements will be heard in the case today.

Irish Independent

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