Saturday 17 March 2018

Martens looks for retrial after jurors' 'social media posts'

Guilty: Molly Martens-Corbett. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Guilty: Molly Martens-Corbett. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens Corbett Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Lawyers for Molly Martens-Corbett and her father have filed court documents saying the guilty verdicts in the murder of Jason Corbett should be set aside due to alleged jury misconduct.

A motion filed in the US alleges that certain jurors posted about the trial on social media, as well as giving press interviews, which pointed to "juror misconduct".

After a month-long trial in Davidson Superior Court, North Carolina, Martens-Corbett (33) and her father Thomas Martens (67) were convicted of second-degree murder by a jury of nine women and three men.

Both were sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison following the verdicts on Wednesday last week.

Father-of-two Mr Corbett was beaten to death with a brick, which was on his wife's nightstand in the couple's bedroom, and an aluminium baseball bat in his home in Panther Creek Court, North Carolina, in the early hours of Sunday, August 2, 2015.

They claimed they were acting in self-defence but the jury returned verdicts of second-degree murder after just three hours and 20 minutes of deliberations. However, lawyers for the father and daughter are now calling for the verdicts to be thrown out.

Molly Martens-Corbett with husband Jason: Unheard evidence ‘will prove she acted in self-defence’.
Molly Martens-Corbett with husband Jason: Unheard evidence ‘will prove she acted in self-defence’.

The 'Winston-Salem Journal' reports that their argument includes that "post-trial, voluntary press interviews and social media posts of certain jurors portray juror misconduct throughout the proceeding".

It is claimed that this "directly violates the court's repeated jury admonitions, North Carolina law and the Constitutional protections afforded these and all defendants in a criminal trial".

The judge repeatedly told the jurors throughout the trial not to talk about the case with other people, and to not watch or read anything on social media related to the trial.

The motion says that on August 8, after the jury ended its deliberations that day, the jury foreman and another juror "immediately after court met privately in a Nissan vehicle with a Carolina Panthers licence plate on the front," in a meeting that lasted 10 to 15 minutes.

Walter Holton and Cheryl Andrews, lawyers for Martens-Corbett, and David Freedman and Jones Byrd, lawyers for Martens, also allege that the jurors were biased.

They claim that one juror talked post-trial about the case on social media, mentioning that Martens-Corbett was "delusional" and "how daddy and Sharon (her mother) enabled this non-human person".

Mr Freedman and Mr Holton said a judge should schedule an evidentiary hearing, set aside the jury's verdicts and grant Martens and Martens-Corbett a new trial.

No hearing has yet been set.

Irish Independent

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