Saturday 21 September 2019

Molly Martens' 'fantasy' self-defence appeal against Jason Corbett murder conviction deemed a 'fabrication' by lawyers

Jason Corbett and Molly Martens on their wedding day (Inset above: Molly Martens' photo taken after arrest; inset below: Molly Martens' father Tom)
Jason Corbett and Molly Martens on their wedding day (Inset above: Molly Martens' photo taken after arrest; inset below: Molly Martens' father Tom)
Tragic end: Martens was given a sentence of 20 to 25 years for the killing of her husband Jason Corbett
Molly Martens following her arrest.
Jason Corbett with Molly Martens
JAILED: Molly Martens at her trial. She is not due to be released from prison until April 2041.
Jason Corbett and Molly Martens on their wedding day in 2011.
Molly Martens with her father Tom on her wedding day
Molly Martens-Corbett is serving time in a US prison
Molly Martens is involved in a special prison programme
Jason Corbett. Photo: Brendan Gleeson
Molly pictured outside the house with blood spattered on her face by Davidson County police just a few hours later
Molly Martens and her lawyer Walter Holton before her trial. Photo: Mark Condren
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

US State Attorneys have issued a strong rebuttal against "self-defence" claims made by Molly Martens and her father, Thomas Martens, in appeals against their conviction for murdering Limerick man Jason Corbett.

The prosecutors say the claims made by the father and daughter that they were acting in self-defence when they killed Mr Corbett were a "fabrication" and "a fantasy".

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

In court documents filed in the US last week, North Carolina's Department of Justice said sufficient evidence was presented in court to convict the pair of murdering Mr Corbett at his US home in 2015.

The documents are the Justice Department's attorneys response to the Martens' lawyers' appeal against the conviction.

Molly and Thomas Martens were found guilty of second degree murder by a US jury in August last year.

Mr Corbett was discovered dead at his home in North Carolina in the early hours of August 2, 2015, with catastrophic head injuries.

During the murder trial it emerged he had been beaten with a baseball bat and a paving stone during an attack at the hands of his wife, Molly Martens, and his father-in-law Thomas Martens, a former FBI agent.

They claimed Mr Corbett and his wife were arguing when Thomas Martens walked into their bedroom and saw him strangling her.

JAILED: Molly Martens at her trial. She is not due to be released from prison until April 2041.
JAILED: Molly Martens at her trial. She is not due to be released from prison until April 2041.

However, both were found uninjured at the scene and investigators suggested Mr Corbett may have been asleep and powerless when the attack started.

Experts were unable to determine the precise number of blows he suffered to the head because his skull had been crushed.

It also emerged during the trial that Mr Corbett had traces of Trazodone, a powerful sedative, in his system. It had been prescribed to Molly Martens three days before she and her father killed her husband.

Both received prison sentences of between 20 and 25 years after a lengthy trial in the summer of 2017.

They lodged appeals against their convictions.

In their appeals they claim prosecutors failed to present evidence she was the aggressor. Molly Martens had claimed her husband was strangling her before he was killed.

Tragic end: Martens was given a sentence of 20 to 25 years for the killing of her husband Jason Corbett
Tragic end: Martens was given a sentence of 20 to 25 years for the killing of her husband Jason Corbett

Now, the grounds of her appeal have been criticised by State attorneys in North Carolina.

They argued "voluminous" evidence showed Mr Corbett was repeatedly struck in the head by both of the defendants.

Applications the pair acted in self-defence are also dismissed by the Department of Justice rebuttal.

"Together they created this fantasy to deceive the authorities and this jury in a fabricated story participated in by both defendants, acting in concert together to attain the ultimate result that they intended," the documents state.

"The self-defence claim of both defendants fell on unreceptive ears because of the obvious use of excessive force, making that defence unavailable in law as well."

The documents also reassert blood-spatter analysis presented to the court during the trial by forensic expert Dr Stuart James.

Dr James's analysis had been challenged by lawyers acting for Molly Martens and her father, saying it was not determined with certainty that stains on Thomas Martens' boxer shorts were Mr Corbett's blood.

The jury during the trial had heard Dr James found blood spatters on the inside lower hem of Mr Martens's boxer shorts. He said this indicated Thomas Martens had to have been standing directly over Mr Corbett when his skull was struck.

State attorneys have moved to defend this analysis, saying it was credible and reliable. They also argued that had Dr James's evidence not been allowed it would not have changed the result of the trial.

The appeal is due to be heard next year by a panel of three judges.

It can overturn the conviction if the Court of Appeal finds there was not sufficient evidence to support the jury's decision. If it feels there were mistakes made during the trial, it can call for a new trial.

Department of Justice attorneys said they are satisfied with how the trial was carried out.

Representatives for the defence had filed post-trial motions making allegations of juror misconduct. It was claimed some jurors spoke to the media and discussed the trial on social media during proceedings.

In documents made public by the Lexington Dispatch, the State Attorneys said they are happy the jurors were not influenced by external sources. It said public comments made by jurors came after the jury reached a verdict.

Molly Martens had her jail term extended this year after breaching prison rules.

She is now due to be released in April 2041.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News