Monday 9 December 2019

Trial may not take place until next year, says prosecutor

Molly Martens’ charge sheet
Molly Martens’ charge sheet
Molly Martens’ charge sheet
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The man prosecuting the widow and father-in-law of Jason Corbett has said it could be early 2017 before the case comes to trial in the US.

Gary Frank, the district attorney for Davidson County in North Carolina, said that on average it takes a year for a case in state to go from the stage where defendants are charged to a trial beginning.

Mr Frank said he hoped it could proceed sooner than that, but it was not something he could control.

"It all depends on how fast we can complete discovery and when the defendant has prepared their defence and are ready for trial," he said.

Mr Frank also explained that Molly Martens Corbett and her father Thomas Martens would not have to stay in jail while they wait for the trial to begin.

"In North Carolina, all cases get bail unless they are a capital murder case, which this is not," he said.

Both defendants have been charged with second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. He said second-degree murder is defined as intentional killing with malice but without premeditation and deliberation.

Voluntary manslaughter is a lesser homicide offence, he said, where a death could have occurred due to gross negligence or "imperfect self-defence".

Both charges will be put to the jury and they can decide to accept or reject either of them or, in the event of an aquittal, reject both. The prosecutor said he was satisfied that sufficient evidence had been gathered in the aftermath of Mr Corbett's death to warrant a trial.

Under the process used in the state, evidence was put before a grand jury behind closed doors for them to decide whether there was "probable cause" - a level of reasonable belief - that a crime had taken place.

"I would never have put my name on the indictments unless I thought there was sufficient evidence to submit for them [the grand jury] to decide if there was probable cause," said Mr Frank.

"That was the standard of proof that they had to consider. "Of course, now the standard of proof shifts to beyond a reasonable doubt."

Although the grand jury decided last month that both defendants should go forward for trial, the decision was not made public until earlier this week.

Irish Independent

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