Sunday 25 February 2018

'The choking did not occur' - Jurors believe Jason Corbett was asleep when struck

  • Blood impact spatter marks were from the Irish father-of-two desperately trying to escape, juror says
  • Gruesome crime scene photos were key to the guilty verdict
  • Lawyer defends decision not to put Molly Martens Corbett on stand
Molly and Thomas Martens will serve 20-year sentences for the murder of Jason Corbett
Molly and Thomas Martens will serve 20-year sentences for the murder of Jason Corbett
Molly Martens
Molly and her father Thomas Martens
Molly Martens pictured in her pyjamas after the killing of her husband Jason Corbett
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Two jurors in North Carolina say they believe Irish father Jason Corbett was asleep in bed when he was first struck by his wife Molly Martens Corbett.

Davidson County juror Miriam Figueroa told US TV network ABC she believes Martens Corbett (33) struck her husband first with the paving stone while he was sleeping.

“I think at some point Dad (Thomas Michael Martens) came to help out and cover it up,” Ms Figueroa said.

“There was blood on the pillow and on the comforter. That may have been the first blow, and then it progressed from that point where he got out of bed and she might have struck him more than one time in bed.”

Jury foreman, Tom Aamland, said he believes the extensive blood impact spatter marks around the bedroom, hallway and bathroom were from the Irish father-of-two desperately trying to escape the attack from the brick and the baseball bat.

“And when he got up and tried to protect himself,” Mr Aamland added.

Molly Martens Corbett on ABC's 20/20
Molly Martens Corbett on ABC's 20/20

“I believe that’s when Tom had to intervene because of the size difference of Molly and Jason," Mr Aamland said.

The revelation came as a defence lawyer has defended the decision not to put Molly Martens Corbett (33) in the witness stand at her high profile North Carolina murder trial over the death of her Irish husband.

Ms Martens Corbett and her father, retired FBI agent Thomas Michael Martens (67), were both convicted of the second degree murder of the Limerick father of two.

They were sentenced to minimum prison terms of 20 years each for the brutal killing of the packaging industry executive at his luxury Panther Creek Court home on August 2 2015.

Molly Martens pictured in her pyjamas after the killing of her husband Jason Corbett
Molly Martens pictured in her pyjamas after the killing of her husband Jason Corbett

Walter Holton, Ms Martens Corbett's lawyer, confirmed she is to appeal the conviction.

But he defended in an interview with ABC for their top-rated '20/20' programme, the fact that, unlike her father, she opted not to give sworn testimony in her defence.

The interview, on Friday evening, was the second segment of a special broadcast on the Corbett trial in Davidson County which has dominated headlines in both the US and Ireland.

"Why? What burden of proof do we have," Mr Holton said.

"That is not the way the system works - it is not up to us to prove innocence."

The ABC interview also included submissions from several of the jurors who unanimously convicted the father and daughter of Mr Corbett's murder.

Molly Martens
Molly Martens

The Limerick man (39) died from at least 12 savage blows to the head which crushed portions of his skull.

While both the father and daughter argued they acted in self defence, both were found to be uninjured at the scene.

Mr Corbett suffered his fatal injuries from a metal baseball bat and a garden paving brick.

Three of the jurors told ABC they believed the self defence story was simply a cover up.

“The evidence to me did not suggest that the story that was fabricated ever occurred,” juror Ms Figueroa said.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I made and my fellow jurors made the right choice.”

“To me, the choking did not occur,” Ms Figueroa said.

Jury foreman Tom Aamland and another juror, Nancy Perez, agreed.

“Once you hit a certain point and you do not stop, manslaughter or self-defense goes off the table,” Ms Figueroa said. “Once that point was matched where you could have stopped then and there, once the person was no longer an aggressor, if that were the case, and you continue, it's no longer self-defence.”

Another major factor in their verdict decision, they said, was the gruesome crime scene photos.

Ms Perez said the first image of Jason Corbett’s body she saw was so graphic that she vomited in the North Carolina courtroom.

The three jurors said they believe Molly Corbett and her father took some time after Jason died to conspire before they called 911, and they said the prosecution’s argument that investigators said Martens and Molly Corbett didn’t appear to have any injuries was telling.

Molly Corbett did not take the stand at trial, but the jurors watched her closely throughout the trial and developed theories about her mental health.

"I believe she can control her personalities, whether it's bipolar or whatever," Mr Aamland said.

Molly Corbett told ABC News "20/20" in her pre-trial interview that she had once been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but this information was never revealed at trial.

Figueroa and Perez also said they stared at Molly and made notes about what triggered Molly's emotions - and what didn't.

"Yes. Every time that they would talk about the kids, I was like, 'Molly's crying.' They'd show the pictures of her husband and his skull, 'Molly doesn't seem to be affected,' said Ms Perez.

Ms Perez went further in her observations of Molly's character.

"I think Molly is a person that has not been ever held accountable for any actions whatsoever. I think Molly was Daddy's princess, just like every girl is in Daddy's eyes. I feel like Molly was very manipulative."

Though it didn't come up at trial, Molly claimed in her interview with "20/20" that Jason had been an abusive husband for years, though the jurors argued the defense didn’t present proof of that.

“The defense did not once suggest any of that,” Ms Figueroa said.

"So we as jurors, or me as a juror, cannot take that into consideration because it was never presented as a possibility.”

“We had to go by what we heard,” Mr Aamland said.

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