Friday 19 July 2019

Key points from the prosecution and defence cases

Molly Martens-Corbett
Molly Martens-Corbett

Key points from the prosecution case: the prosecution claimed Molly Martens-Corbett and Thomas Michael Martens delayed calling 911 to ensure Jason Corbett died, and then engaged in "fake" CPR.

The first blow sustained by Mr Corbett could have been while he was either in or beside his bed. Blood impact spatters were found on the inside of the quilt and a blood saturation stain was inside the skirting of the box mattress frame.

The Limerick native's head was struck in a descending motion - in other words, he suffered repeated severe blows to the skull as he was falling to the ground in his bedroom. One blow was inflicted after he died.

An analysis of one blood impact spatter indicated his head was either near the carpet or on the carpet when he was struck.

Mr Corbett had been lying face-down on the carpet for a period of time due to the manner of blood pooled by his head.

A blood spatter analysis of the boxer shorts worn by Mr Martens and the pyjama bottoms of Ms Martens-Corbett indicated they were standing beside Mr Corbett when his head was struck, most likely on or near the ground. In Mr Martens' case, the evidence indicates he was standing above Mr Corbett when one blow was struck.

DNA tests confirmed Mr Corbett's blood and tissue was on the clothing of the father and daughter, a baseball bat and a stone garden paving brick.

The quantity of blood, hair and tissue on almost all parts of the brick indicated that it was used in far more than just a single blow.

Mr Corbett was homesick and lonely in the US and had planned to move back to Ireland with his children. His sister, Tracey, said she had not heard her brother was bringing his wife to a Limerick celebration for their father's 80th birthday - only his children.

The Limerick businessman had repeatedly refused to sign adoption papers allowing Ms Martens-Corbett equal rights to him in respect of his children, Jack and Sarah.

Ms Martens-Corbett is now the main beneficiary of a $600,000 (€510,000) life insurance policy payable on her late husband. The money is currently held in trust, pending the outcome of the murder trial.

The trial previously heard that traces of the powerful sedative Trazedone were found in Mr Corbett's system. The medication was not prescribed for him. However, his wife obtained and filled a prescription for the drug three days before his death.

At no time did Mr Martens's wife, Sharon, come into the master bedroom, nor was she ever asked to call 911 by her husband or daughter.

Key points from the defence case

Defence lawyers David Freedman and Walter Holton claimed key failures by the police to conduct exhaustive forensic testing of the scene undermined the prosecution.

They claimed the prosecution has totally failed to show malice, a key component of a second-degree murder charge in North Carolina. They said the only evidence was Mr Martens's admission he did not like his son-in-law.

Both also claimed the State case effectively corroborates the argument of the father and daughter that they acted solely in self-defence. Mr Holton insisted not one shred of evidence has contradicted the claim that Mr Corbett was the aggressor that evening.

The legal teams claimed that at most, the case indicates the possible use of excessive force - something that does not warrant a second-degree murder conviction.

There was no written evidence or flight bookings indicating that Mr Corbett planned to permanently leave North Carolina with his children and without his wife.

Key elements of the State forensic case may be unreliable, given that a blood pattern expert never visited the Panther Creek scene in person, was never given any forensic report on the testing of blood on a quilt as well as the fact that stains under the hem of Mr Martens's boxer shorts, singled out for particular significance by the State, were never tested in the laboratory. Only stains on the front of the boxer shorts were tested.

Both the father and daughter's evidence has been consistent from the moment at 3.02am on August 2, 2015 that Mr Martens called 911 and said he struck his son-in-law after intervening in a domestic dispute in which his daughter was being attacked.

A hair strand, apparently blonde in colour, photographed in Mr Corbett's blood-soaked hand was never secured and forensically tested.

Up to 23 people entered and left the master bedroom of the Panther Creek property before it was secured and photographed by forensic officers.

The defence stressed that Mr Corbett had consumed at least seven drinks in the hours before his death. His father-in-law described him as "intoxicated" that night.

Just 17 days before his death, Mr Corbett had told a nurse in a family medical practice that he "gets angry for no reason".

The legal teams argued neither Thomas Martens nor Molly Martens-Corbett stood to benefit from Mr Corbett's death - Ms Martens-Corbett was not in his will and the two children are now back in Ireland. She has no assets and now lives with her parents.

Irish Independent

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