Monday 11 December 2017

Molly Martens murder trial: Jason's skull crushed with 'I hate you' force, lawyer tells jury as verdict expected

The family home in Panther Creek Court in Wallburg where Jason Corbett and his wife Molly Martens (inset) lived with his children
The family home in Panther Creek Court in Wallburg where Jason Corbett and his wife Molly Martens (inset) lived with his children
Molly Martens-Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A North Carolina jury is set to begin its deliberations on a verdict in the murder trial over an Irish businessman's death, as the prosecution claimed he was beaten until his head resembled "a bad Humpty Dumpty cartoon".

The Davidson County Superior Court jury will today begin considering a verdict on father and daughter Thomas Martens (67) and Molly Martens-Corbett (33), who deny the second-degree murder of Jason Corbett (39) two years ago.

Both defence teams called for acquittals as they said the evidence overwhelmingly supports self-defence and that Mr Corbett was the aggressor that night.

David Freedman, lawyer for Mr Martens, said his client was defending his family. "What do we know about Tom and what he did for the previous 40 years? He spent the previous 40 years defending this country.

"I remember when being in law enforcement was a good thing. We have spent the last few days disparaging the FBI. He has served us, he has protected us - that is what Tom Martens knows how to do."

Jurors visibly winced yesterday as Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin repeatedly struck a courtroom table with the metal baseball bat used to kill Mr Corbett to underline the sheer force required to crush the father-of-two's skull.

Thomas Martens [Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch]
Thomas Martens [Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch]

Mr Martin also recreated in the courtroom, with Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown, how Mr Corbett may have lain prone on the ground while blows rained down on his head.

"They literally beat the skin off of his skull with that bat and that brick," he said.

"They, acting in concert, her and him, literally crushed his skull. They turned his skull into something that resembled a bad Humpty Dumpty cartoon.

"They beat him after the threat was over - after he went down."

Mr Martin said there were indications Mr Corbett was struck repeatedly while helpless on the floor.

"They hit him at least four times after he was dead - maybe more. It takes a lot of force to crush a skull."

Mr Martin repeatedly struck a table with the metal baseball bat to underline his point.

"They didn't just split his skull or rip the flesh off the bone. They crushed his skull.

Molly Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse in Lexington, North Carolina, USA.
Molly Corbett arrives at the Davidson County Courthouse in Lexington, North Carolina, USA.

"It takes 'I hate you' force. Jason did not have to die that brutal and savage death at the hands of the woman he came to America to marry. His children, Jack and Sarah, did not have to be orphans."

Mr Martin pointed out that such was the catastrophic damage to Mr Corbett's skull that a pathologist thought the injuries were comparable to someone involved in a bad car crash or a fall from a height.

To illustrate the point, Mr Martin showed jurors photographs of the Limerick father before and after the attack.

"This is what they did to Jason," he said, as he held up a post-mortem photograph.

"This is what Jason did to them - nothing," Mr Martin said, as he held up scene photographs which showed the father and daughter totally uninjured.

Mr Martin stressed the distinction between second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter turns on malice.

"You know what malice sounds like," he asked jurors. "I want to divorce him - but I want his kids. He is beneath me and I am above him. He is not good enough for my daughter. I don't like him and his rowdy Irish friends who cuss too much and smoke outside my house. He is less than and I am greater than. I hate him. That's what malice sounds like.

"Murder, to cover up an assault by either one of these two people, is malice."

The Davidson County Superior Court jury is deliberating on a verdict after closing arguments from the prosecution and two defence teams.

Mr Martens and Ms Martens-Corbett deny the second-degree murder at Panther Creek, outside Lexington, in North Carolina, in August 2015.

Irish Independent

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