Thursday 19 September 2019

Molly Martens' father claims US judge was 'unfair' in murder case

Ex-FBI agent has lodged fresh appeal documents

Thomas Martens. Picture: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Thomas Martens. Picture: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch

Ralph Riegel

A retired FBI agent convicted of the brutal murder of his son-in-law has claimed a judge was "unfair" in not allowing him to enter specific statements to support the claim he acted in self-defence.

The claim came as Tom Martens (68) and his daughter, Molly (34), have responded to North Carolina state prosecutors' rejection of appeal grounds against their convictions for the second-degree murder of Irish businessman Jason Corbett (39).

The claim by the father and daughter that they acted in self-defence over the killing of Mr Corbett, a Limerick-born father of two, was emphatically challenged in US court documents last month.

The documents were lodged by North Carolina state prosecutors, acting for the Davidson County district attorney's office, in response to the appeals by Molly and Tom Martens against their convictions for the second-degree murder of Mr Corbett three years ago.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals will now rule on the challenges to the convictions next year.

The father and daughter are currently serving 20-25 year sentences in North Carolina prisons over the murder of Mr Corbett on August 2, 2015, when he was beaten to death with a brick and a baseball bat.

Both are now appealing their convictions on the basis they claim they acted entirely in self-defence.

The appeal has also challenged juror behaviour and expert forensic evidence offered by the prosecution.

Mr Martens, a retired FBI agent, insisted he only struck his son-in-law with a baseball bat when he claimed he saw him holding Ms Martens by the throat.

His legal team were not allowed to introduce evidence at the Davidson County Superior Court trial, when he claimed the father of Mr Corbett's late first wife, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, alleged he held the Limerick businessman responsible for her death.

The defence were similarly not allowed to enter disputed statements from Mr Corbett's two children in evidence.

Michael Fitzpatrick and the Fitzpatrick family have vehemently disputed the Martens' claims.

Mags Fitzpatrick Corbett died from a severe asthma attack on November 21, 2006, just weeks after giving birth to her second child, Sarah.

Her husband frantically tried to resuscitate her after having driven to meet an ambulance to get her critical medical attention at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

He then met Tennessee native Molly Martens when she moved to Ireland to work as a nanny minding his two children, Jack and Sarah, two years later.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who was gravely ill in 2015/16, made a sworn affidavit with an Irish solicitor that he never made any such comments to the former FBI agent.

The trial judge had described Mr Martens' statement and claims about Mr Fitzpatrick as "self-serving" and "prejudicial".

In new court documents, cited by the 'Winston-Salem Journal', Martens said the trial judge was "unfair" to him in not allowing those statements.

North Carolina Department of Justice officials have dismissed the appeal claims of self defence as "fantasy" and "a fabrication".

While Mr Corbett was found with horrific head injuries at the scene, both Tom and Molly Martens were totally uninjured.

The Corbett family maintain Jason was attacked because he planned to move back to Ireland with his two children amid concerns over the increasingly bizarre behaviour of Ms Martens, who had a history of mental health problems.

The State argued the excessive use of force was so blatant and overwhelming it negated any possible suggestion of self-defence.

Mr Corbett was asleep in bed when he was first attacked.

Irish Independent

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