A former FBI agent convicted, along with his daughter Molly, of the brutal murder of Irish father-of-two Jason Corbett is seeking release from a US prison because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
US lawyers have filed a motion with prison authorities in North Carolina for the release of Tom Martens (70) given his age and, it is argued, the disproportionate threat he faces from the virus while in prison.
A number of inmates have caught the coronavirus in several US prisons and, despite emergency treatment, subsequently died.
The Irish Independent has learned that Tom Martens's lawyers have formally applied for his release on bond pending the hearing of a North Carolina Supreme Court appeal case over his conviction for second-degree murder. They have petitioned for a release on bond given the health risks the former FBI agent and Department of Energy intelligence officer faces from the virus in prison.
A hearing in respect of his special bail application will take place today.
Members of Mr Corbett's Limerick-based family are understood to be shocked and distressed by the development.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is now liaising with the family over Tom Martens's bid for release from prison on medical and health grounds.
It is understood the application for temporary release will be opposed by North Carolina prosecutors.
Tom and Molly Martens have been in prison since they were convicted in August 2017 of the second-degree murder of the Limerick widower (39) at his home outside Winston-Salem in the southern state two years earlier.
Both were sentenced to 20-25 years in prison.
Mr Corbett was savagely beaten to death with a baseball bat and a heavy concrete brick as he slept. An attempt had also been made to drug him.