Monday 11 December 2017

Molly Martens murder trial: Molly and her father 'delayed 911 call and faked CPR on Jason Corbett', trial hears

Thomas Martens and his daughter Molly Martens Corbett. Inset Jason Corbett
Thomas Martens and his daughter Molly Martens Corbett. Inset Jason Corbett
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

MOLLY Martens Corbett and her father Thomas Martens bludgeoned Irish businessman Jason Corbett to death, delayed making a 911 emergency call and then engaged in a "fake" cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) effort, a prosecutor claimed.

A North Carolina murder trial heard closing arguments as a North Carolina jury were sent out to consider a verdict in the second degree murder trial.

Molly Martens-Corbett outside the Davidson County Courthouse. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens-Corbett outside the Davidson County Courthouse. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens-Corbett

Both Ms Martens Corbett (33) and Mr Martens (67), a retired FBI agent, deny the second degree murder of the Limerick businessman in the bedroom of his luxury North Carolina home two years ago.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown told the jury Mr Corbett's "blood now screams for justice.

"We will never know if Jason Corbett tried to cry out, did he plead for his life or did he think of his two children."

He claimed the Irish businessman was victim of "heinous, atrocious and cruel" attack.

"Jason cannot speak out to you today but his blood speaks the truth and screams for justice."

Mr Brown said in closing arguments the forensic evidence indicates that both defendants acted to support their story of acting in self defence.

Martens with Jason Corbett
Martens with Jason Corbett

"All the evidence conclusively shows that excessive force was used (to cause) the heinous, atrocious and cruel death of Jason Corbett," he said.

"(They were also) staging for their story," he said.

"Jason was left to die before 911 was ever called so as to allow the FBI agent and lawyer to develop the story he was going to tell and match wits with you to determine the outcome of this criminal prosecution."

Mr Brown contended that Ms Martens Corbett had a motive - the fact she would get the marital home, its contents, an insurance policy payout and, most important to her, Mr Corbett's two children.

The district attorney pointed out that Mr Corbett had repeatedly refused to sign adoption papers for his second wife, giving her equal rights to his children.

He also had plans to return to Ireland with his children.

Mr Brown said paramedics also found dry flaky blood and congealed blood of Mr Corbett at the scene - indicating the 911 call had not been made immediately as claimed by the father and daughter.

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

"He was bludgeoned to death by Thomas Martens and Molly Martens Corbett with a metal baseball bat and a concrete brick," he said.

"The State would suggest to you that Mr Martens was calm and not even out of breath after a battle for his life and that of his daughter."

Mr Brown said that paramedics and police who attended the scene within minutes of the 911 call being made found no blood on Mr Martens hands - despite the fact he claimed he had just performed 400 chest pumps on the blood soaked body of his son-in-law.

No blood was found on the hands of Ms Martens Corbett.

The Irishman's body was also found to be "cool."

Mr Brown said the State contended the duo engaged in "fake CPR" and had further delayed calling 911.

He said the State argued the evidence also supported the contention they had acted to support their self defence story.

"There was not one drop of blood on his (Mr Martens) hands."

"They said they called 911 'the minute he went down'. But that is not supported by the evidence."

Molly Martens
Molly Martens

"It is not self defence - this is second degree murder."

"Why didn't he stop when Jason was on the ground? Why did he continue to bludgeon him? Why didn't they stop. Malice? Yes. Hatred? Yes. Excessive force? Yes."

"The evidence is that Jason was retreating....he was naked in his marital bedroom and unarmed. His children were asleep in the house."

Mr Brown said that injuries to Mr Corbett's hand and arm suggested he may have desperately tried to defend himself.

He argued that Mr Martens decision to grab a baseball bat and bring it to Mr Corbett's bedroom suggest that he intended to attack his son-in-law early that morning.

The defence case for retired FBI agent Thomas Martens (67) and his daughter, Molly Martens Corbett (33), ended with the young Tennessee woman opting not to give sworn testimony as the trial entered its fourth week.

A charge of voluntary manslaughter, which was originally dropped on the opening day of the trial, will now be included on the verdict paper issued to jurors.

Judge David Lee again rejected renewed applications from the two defence teams for the charges to be dismissed before the jury began deliberations.

Both David Freedman, for Mr Martens, and Walter Holton, for Ms Martens Corbett, argued for the dismissal on the basis they claimed the prosecution evidence does not show malice and does not illustrate anything other than self defence.

The jury of nine women and three men will now consider a verdict on the charges facing the father and daughter.

Judge Lee agreed to a prosecution submission that it would be "inappropriate" to include any reference to involuntary manslaughter in the jury charge.

Read More: Martens murder case jury faces grim task of sifting through bloody evidence

The defence yesterday opted not to call two of Ms Martens Corbett's brothers to offer sworn evidence.

The Davidson County trial had been repeatedly told that defence testimony would be offered by two of Ms Martens Corbett's brothers, Bobby, Stewart or Connor.

They were late additions to the defence witness list.

A number of written submissions were made by Ms Martens-Corbett's lawyers, Walter Holton and Cheryl Andrews, to the jury of nine women and three men.

Amongst the items submitted was a copy of Mr Corbett's will dating from April 11 2007.

Molly Martens and her lawyer Walter Holton arrive for a court hearing in Lexington in June. Photo: Mark Condren
Molly Martens and her lawyer Walter Holton arrive for a court hearing in Lexington in June. Photo: Mark Condren

Ms Martens Corbett confirmed to Judge Lee she was exercising her Constitutional right not to offer sworn evidence at the trial.

The young woman was asked to stand and formally confirm to the court she fully understood the position.

"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 by the jury from her decision not to testify.

Both the father and daughter insisted they acted entirely 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.

Blood, tissue and hair fragments were found embedded in the garden brick.

Both the father and daughter were uninjured at the scene.

Mr Corbett married Ms Martens Corbett in 2011.

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.

However, his sister, Tracey Lynch, who is now caring for his two children, told the trial her brother was "homesick and lonely" in North Carolina.

He had planned to bring his children back to Ireland.

Mr Martens, a retired FBI agent, counter-intelligence operative and 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.

Pathology evidence indicated Mr Corbett was struck in the head after he was already dead.

Mr Martens confirmed his wife, Sharon, 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.

Blood spatter evidence indicated Mr Corbett may have been in or by his bed when the first blow was struck.

Mr Martens confirmed 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 and his family.

However, Mr Martens said he could not recall conversations with work colleagues who said he had called his son-in-law "an a**hole" 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 Lexington 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.

The Lexington trial opened with jury selection on July 17.

The jury has heard 14 days of testimony and dealt with almost 200 evidential exhibits.

Evidence was given by 23 witnesses.

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.

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