Sunday 19 January 2020

'Molly and her father were in fear of Jason' - defence lawyer to argue

As prosecution case ends in murder trial, it is still not clear if Martens-Corbett will testify, writes Ralph Riegel in Lexington

Molly Martens-Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens-Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch

Ralph Riegel

Molly Martens-Corbett and her father Thomas Michael Martens will open their defence in a US murder trial by insisting they acted to protect themselves and were in fear of Irish father-of-two Jason Corbett.

Both the father and daughter deny the second-degree murder of the Limerick businessman who died from horrific head injuries in the master bedroom of his Panther Creek home in North Carolina two years ago.

Mr Corbett suffered at least 12 major blows to the head which fractured his skull in multiple places. One of the blows was sustained after Mr Corbett was dead.

A blood-soaked baseball bat and stone garden paving brick were recovered by Davidson County Sheriff's officers from the scene.

There was so much blood in the bedroom, hallway and bathroom that forensic expert Dr Stuart James had to divide the scene into 15 different areas for blood pattern analysis.

Impact spatters of Mr Corbett's blood were also found on the blue pyjamas worn by his wife, and the red polo shirt and white boxer shorts worn by his father-in-law.

His blood was also on his wife's hair, face and ear.

Retired FBI agent Mr Martens even had his son-in-law's blood on the face of his gold wrist watch.

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

The trial, before Judge David Lee and a Davidson County Superior Court jury of nine women and three men, is now in its 12th day, with the prosecution case expected to finish either today or tomorrow.

Jurors have already been told by paramedics, police officers and a crime scene examiner that there were no cuts, bruises or visible injuries to either Ms Martens-Corbett or Mr Martens at the scene.

Ms Martens-Corbett declined to attend hospital for assessment or treatment.

The trial did not sit in session yesterday, on the second anniversary of Mr Corbett's death.

Members of the Corbett family, from Janesboro, in Limerick, who have been in North Carolina for almost a month, attended a private Mass for Mr Corbett yesterday.

The defence case, led by David Freedman for Mr Martens, and Walter Holton for Ms Martens-Corbett, is now expected to last between three and four days.

The father and daughter are arguing self-defence, with Ms Martens-Corbett claiming her husband attacked her in the early hours of August 2, 2015, in the master bedroom of their home.

She told both police and paramedics at the scene an attempt had been made to strangle her.

Her father, who had arrived for a visit at 8.30pm the previous evening from his Tennessee home with his wife, Sharon, claimed he heard the sounds of a row coming from the bedroom and went to investigate.

"[He saw] Jason's hand around Molly's throat," Mr Freedman said. "His little girl, with her husband's hand around her throat."

Mr Martens claimed he only struck Mr Corbett with a baseball bat to protect his daughter and himself.

He had brought the Little League bat to the property as a present for his grandson.

He then made a 911 call to a Davidson County emergency dispatcher to raise the alarm.

In the 14-minute call, he said he thought he had killed his son-in-law.

It is still unclear whether Mr Martens or Ms Martens-Corbett will offer testimony in their own defence.

Both Mr Freedman and Mr Holton have stressed to the jury the entire burden of proof in the case rests on the prosecution and it is entirely within the constitutional rights of the two defendants not to offer evidence.

However, the case will involve testimony from two of Mr Martens's sons, Bobby, Stewart or Connor, in defence of their father and sister.

Irish Independent

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