Saturday 24 March 2018

Molly Martens Corbett will not testify at her murder trial in the US

Corbett murder trial co-defendant Molly Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse on Monday morning. [Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch]
Corbett murder trial co-defendant Molly Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse on Monday morning. [Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch]
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

MOLLY Martens Corbett (33) has opted not to offer testimony at her second degree murder trial in the US.

Ms Martens Corbett confirmed to Judge David Lee today she will not take the stand and offer sworn evidence at her North Carolina trial for the murder of her Irish husband, Jason Corbett (39), two years ago.

Retired FBI agent Thomas Martens (67) and his daughter, Molly Martens Corbett (33), deny the second degree murder of Mr Corbett.

Their trial before Judge Lee and a Davidson County Superior Court jury of nine women and three men has now entered its fourth week.

Jason Corbett with his wife Molly, who is charged with his second degree murder
Jason Corbett with his wife Molly, who is charged with his second degree murder

Today, Ms Martens Corbett confirmed to Judge Lee she is exercising her Constitutional right not to offer sworn evidence.

"Yes," she replied to Judge Lee to confirm she understood her rights, had taken legal advice and, independent of that legal advice, had decided not to offer testimony.

Ms Martens Corbett also said she understood that no inference can be taken from her decision not to testify.

Both the father and daughter insisted they acted in self-defence in inflicting fatal head injuries on the Limerick businessman and father-of-two in the early hours of August 2, 2015.

The Janesboro native was found with horrific head injuries inflicted by a metal baseball bat and a stone garden paving brick in the master bedroom of his luxury home at Panther Creek outside Lexington.

The injuries were so catastrophic that a pathologist indicated an accurate count of the number of blows could not be made - simply that Mr Corbett was struck at least 12 times in the skull.

Both the father and daughter were uninjured at the scene.

Mr Corbett married Ms Martens Corbett in 2011.

Thomas Martens
Thomas Martens

He met the Tennessee woman when he advertised for an au pair/nanny to help him look after his two children who were both aged under two years at the tragic death from asthma of his wife, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick.

After the 2011 wedding, Mr Corbett agreed to relocate his family to the US because his second wife was homesick.

Now, two of Ms Martens Corbett's brothers - Connor, Bobby or Stewart - are expected to offer testimony later today in defence of their father and sister.

The brothers are set to testify as to the nature of the relationship and marriage between Mr Corbett and their sister.

They will also testify as to their family dealings with Mr Corbett.

The defence teams of David Freedman, for Mr Martens, and Walter Holton, for Ms Martens Corbett, are also expected to introduce technical evidence in support of the self defence argument of their clients.

Mr Martens, a qualified lawyer, offered evidence on Friday where he insisted he feared for the life of himself and his daughter that morning.

Mr Martens insisted he struck Mr Corbett, who was naked and unarmed, only to protect himself and his daughter.

Mr Martens claimed the Irishman had caught his daughter by the throat during an argument in the master bedroom.

"I hit him until I considered the threat to be over," he said.

"I made the decision to hit him in the back of the head with the baseball bat to end the threat to my daughter."

However, he said he could not recall striking Mr Corbett while he lay helpless on the ground or swinging the baseball bat so hard it knocked indentations in the bedroom wall.

He confirmed his wife, Sharon Martens, was in a basement bedroom in the Corbett home but did not come up to the master bedroom at any stage to see what was wrong.

Similarly, neither Mr Martens nor Ms Martens Corbett called out to the mother-of-four at any stage to either call 911 or offer them help.

Mr Martens confirmed he did not like his Irish son-in-law - but rejected Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown's suggestion he was attempting to take the blame for his daughter over what had happened.

The Knoxville resident said he had urged his daughter to consult with lawyers and to divorce the Irishman.

"He did not measure up to what I thought my daughter's standard should be," he said.

He acknowledged that he held Mr Corbett in disdain and had said disparaging things about him.

However, Mr Martens said he could not recall conversations with work colleagues who said he had called his son-in-law "an asshole" and admitted he "hated him."

This was despite Mr Corbett paying $390,000 for the couple's luxury Panther Creek home and giving his new wife, Ms Martens Corbett, $80,000 to furnish it.

He had also paid his father-in-law $49,000 towards the cost of their Tennessee wedding ceremony.

Ms Martens Corbett drove a BMW SUV and did not work beyond undertaking volunteer swim coach duties.

The trial heard that she is now the main beneficiary of a $600,000 life insurance policy on her husband.

That money is currently being held in trust pending the outcome of the trial.

A wrongful death law suit has now been launched against Mr Martens, his wife Sharon Martens and Ms Martens Corbett by Mr Corbett's Irish family who are raising his two children, Jack and Sarah.

They were given guardianship of the children after a protracted custody battle in the US.

Judge Lee has indicated that, once the defence case concludes, closing arguments will take place and the jury will be charged.

Judge Lee said he expects that to take place either today (Monday) or Tuesday.

The trial opened with jury selection on July 17.

Under North Carolina law, any verdict delivered must be unanimous amongst all 12 jurors.

Second degree murder can carry, on conviction, a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News