Monday 11 November 2019

Jurors shown baseball bat and blood-stained paving brick used to inflict fatal head injuries on Jason Corbett

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

Ralph Riegel

Jurors in the Jason Corbett (39) murder trial in North Carolina were today shown the baseball bat and blood-stained garden paving brick used to inflict fatal head injuries on the Limerick father-of-two.

The Davidson County Superior Court murder trial of Molly Martens Corbett (33) and her father, retired FBI agent, Thomas Michael Martens (67), is now in its tenth day.

Both the father and daughter deny the second degree murder of Mr Corbett on August 2 2015 at the luxury home he shared with his second wife, Ms Martens Corbett, at Panther Creek between Lexington and Winston-Salem.

Mr Corbett died from at least 12 severe blows to the head which shattered his skull.

Jason Corbett
Jason Corbett

Judge David Lee and a jury of nine women and three men have been hearing evidence in the case since last Tuesday.

It took seven days to select a jury plus two alternate or replacement jurors.

Molly Martens is charged with the second-degree murder of her husband, Limerick man Jason Corbet. Photo: Winston-Salem Journal
Molly Martens is charged with the second-degree murder of her husband, Limerick man Jason Corbet. Photo: Winston-Salem Journal

Today, Davidson County crime scene examiner, Lt Frank Young, opened two brown paper evidence bags to show the baseball bat and the garden paving brick to the jury.

The black-coloured Louisville Slugger baseball bat is 28 inches in length and made of aluminium.

The garden paving brick had visible stains on it.

"(I found the bat) in the master bedroom of the residence - the bat was standing in front of the dresser," he said.

Jason Corbett and Molly Martens pictured at a function in Ireland in 2009
Jason Corbett and Molly Martens pictured at a function in Ireland in 2009

"It is a Louisville Slugger aluminium baseball bat."

Lt Young said the only difference to the bat from when he found it was the presence of volcanic ash traces used by forensic examiners to take fingerprint samples.

He also showed the garden paving brick he seized at the scene to the jury.

"The cement paver appears to be stained with blood," he said.

"I also recovered a strand of hair from the cement paver."

Testimony from a blood spray pattern expert is now also set to prove crucial in the trial.

Such was the violence of the blows sustained by the Limerick packaging executive that parts of Mr Corbett's detached scalp and hair were found in both the master bedroom and hallway of his Panther Creek property.

His blood was found on the floor, walls, bed, bedclothes, bathroom and even utility equipment.

Mr Corbett's blood was found on both the bat and brick while his hair was discovered embedded in the paving stone.

When the brick was lifted off the carpet by forensic experts, it's outline in blood was left on the floor carpet.

Both the father and daughter have argued self-defence and claimed Mr Corbett attacked his wife and threatened to kill her.

Her father said he then intervened and struck Mr Corbett to defend them both.

However, Ms Martens Corbett and Mr Martens were found by Davidson County police and paramedics to be uninjured at the scene - with no bruises, cuts, abrasions or visible wounds.

Lt Young confirmed that a blood pattern expert examined the Panther Creek scene - and photographs of the markings singled out by the expert have already been shown to the jury.

Assistant District Attorneys Greg Brown, Alan Martin and Ina Stanton hope that the detailed blood pattern analysis will explain the precise sequence of blows suffered by Mr Corbett.

An analysis of the blood spatter marks in all the rooms - but particularly the master bedroom - will focus on where Mr Corbett's head was when it was struck repeatedly by the two objects.

The angle and spray pattern of the blood found on the walls will be used to determine Mr Corbett's posture when he was being struck.

Pathologist Dr Craig Nelson has already indicated that at least one of the major blows suffered by Mr Corbett was post mortem or sustained after his heart had stopped beating.

Two head-shaped blood imprints on the wall of the bedroom were found to be at a relatively low level.

Furthermore, substantial quantities of blood were on the bedroom skirting board and on an electrical socket located around 30cm off the floor.

Lt Young said that blood was also found on a vacuum cleaner - and the blood-drip patterns on the machine indicated that it had been moved by someone at the scene.

"It was as if it was laid down and moved back up," he said.

The expert will also address a number of unexplained indentations on the plaster walls.

These were of such significance they were specially circled on photographs of the scene taken by Lt Young.

A plastic switch plate, located just off the ground, was found to be blood-spattered and also to be cracked.

Dr Nelson said Mr Corbett suffered at least 12 major blows - but such was the catastrophic damage to two rear portions of his skull, where multiple impacts had been sustained, that it was impossible to make an accurate count of the total number of blows.

One skull wound, which had a linear detail imprint, was assessed as not having been made by the baseball bat.

The violence of the impacts meant that when Dr Nelson moved to adjust the position of Mr Corbett's head during the post mortem examination, pieces of his skull fell out onto the surgical table.

Fragments of his skull were also driven into his brain.

The Janesboro native also had a fractured nose and abrasions to his torso and legs.

The prosecution case, which began last Tuesday, is set to continue for at least another three days.

It was indicated that the trial would take three weeks but the hearing is now expected to last between four and six weeks.

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