Killer Molly Martens' lawyers allowed to address appeal judges in unusual ruling
Tom and Molly Martens are appealing their conviction for the murder of Irish businessman Jason Corbett
A US court has dramatically ordered that Tom and Molly Martens be allowed to make oral submissions in their appeal against a conviction for the murder of Irish businessman Jason Corbett.
The Court of Appeals in North Carolina has taken the unusual step of ruling that oral arguments be allowed in the new year as part of the appeal by the retired FBI agent and his daughter against the conviction and 20-25 year prison sentences for the second degree murder of the Limerick-born father-of-two.
A Davidson County Superior Court jury unanimously convicted the father and daughter of beating Mr Corbett (39) to death as he was asleep in the luxury home outside Winston Salem that he shared with Martens (34), his second wife, in August 2015.
The second-degree murder convictions were returned after a five-week trial in July-August 2017 that dominated Irish and US headlines.
Mr Corbett was beaten to death with a concrete brick and a paving bat.
Pathology evidence indicated that Mr Corbett was beaten even after he lay dead on the floor - and that the first blow was most likely struck while he was asleep in bed and helpless.
Both Mr Martens (68) and his daughter claim they acted in self-defence.
Mr Corbett was found at the scene with horrific head injuries and a pathologist was unable to determine the precise number of blows struck.
However, Mr Martens and Ms Martens were found by police to be totally uninjured at the scene. Neither had even a cut or a bruise.
The father and daughter lodged written submissions on why their appeal should be upheld last September.
Now, their legal teams will be allowed to directly address the three-judge panel on the appeal.
North Carolina prosecutors will, in turn, be allowed to make oral arguments against why the appeal should be dismissed.
In North Carolina, most appeal cases are dealt with by written submissions, though cases viewed as significant or complex are granted oral arguments.
The hearing will now be heard before Judge John Tyson, Judge Valerie Zachary and Judge Allegra Collins in late January.
The appeal panel will reserve their judgment with a ruling in the case not expected until April.