Molly Martens-Corbett and dad expected to allege shortcomings in the police murder investigation
Molly Martens and her father Thomas claim they were acting in self-defence as they plead not guilty over Jason Corbett death
The widow and father-in-law of slain Irishman Jason Corbett are expected to allege shortcomings in the police investigation that led to them being charged with his murder.
Details of the defence planned by Molly Martens Corbett (32) and her father Thomas Martens (65) emerged as they appeared in a Davidson Superior Court in North Carolina, USA, for the first time since a grand jury decided they should face trial.
Ms Martens appeared emotional when she walked into the courtroom, her hands handcuffed behind their back. Dressed in a white jumper, dark grey trousers and a pink vest jacket, she was flanked by her lawyers Walter C Holton and Cheryl Andrews.
Mr Martens, a retired FBI agent who recently worked as a counter intelligence officer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, did not show any emotion.
The pair - who have been indicted on second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges - were ordered to hand over their passports and not to have any contact with Mr Corbett's two children, who are back in Limerick with his family. Judge Theodore Royster set bail on a bond of $200,000 each.
A spokesman for the co-accused indicated the manner in which the police probe was conducted could be a factor in their defence. Ms Martens's uncle Mike Earnest claimed the two accused had been questioned only once by officers, and that was on the morning Mr Corbett (39) suffered fatal head injuries at his home in Wallburg, in Davidson County.
Mr Earnest also told the Irish Independent they would demonstrate during their trial they had acted in self-defence.
There was no immediate comment from Mr Corbett's family on the claims. His sister Tracey Lynch was in the court room for the brief hearing.
Mr Corbett, a Limerick-born pharmaceutical company employee, married Ms Martens in 2011, five years after the sudden death of his first wife Mags from an asthma attack. They met after Tennessee-born Ms Martens responded to an advert placed by Mr Corbett seeking an au pair to help mind his two young children in Ireland.
The couple later moved to the US, but things ended in tragedy in the early hours of August 2 last year when Mr Martens called 911 saying he had been in an argument with his son-in-law and had struck him with a baseball bat.
In a statement issued on behalf of Ms Martens and her father yesterday, Mr Earnest said the "actions of self-defence Tom and Molly took that morning were completely necessary and justified".
"While the family is extremely disappointed in the grand jury's actions, we look forward to finally getting the opportunity to have the full story heard.
"Since the 911 call that Tom made that morning, Tom and Molly have cooperated fully with the investigation and made themselves available every step of the way. They will both enter pleas of not guilty and we are confident that once an impartial trial jury is presented with all of the evidence, Tom and Molly will be exonerated," it added.
Mr Earnest declined to elaborate in detail on the claims of self-defence being made by Ms Martens and her father.
"Self-defence speaks for itself," he said. "A statement of self-defence certainly cannot be made unless there were actions taken by someone else that resulted in you having to use self-defence."
Davidson County District Attorney Gary Frank, who is bringing the case against Ms Martens and her father, declined to comment on the conduct of the police investigation.
"I can't control and don't really intend to respond to what they are saying," he told the Irish Independent.
The charges were recommended by a grand jury who considered the matter behind closed doors last month. However, that decision was only made public earlier this week.