Killer Molly Martens gets her chance to fight murder verdict
A father and daughter serving 20-year prison sentences for the second-degree murder of an Irish businessman are set to have a legal challenge to their jury conviction dealt with before their full appeal is heard by a top US court.
Molly Martens-Corbett (33) and her father, retired FBI agent Thomas Martens (67), were convicted on August 9 in North Carolina of the murder of Jason Corbett (39) in 2015.
They were unanimously convicted by a Davidson County Superior Court jury of nine women and three men following a four-week trial that dominated headlines in both the US and Ireland.
The Irish Independent and 'Sunday Independent' are this weekend publishing a detailed two-part book on the trial entitled 'Molly Martens - The Making of a Murderer'.
Both the father and daughter are now challenging the Davidson County Superior Court verdict after they alleged juror misconduct.
They are also challenging their convictions with a case lodged with the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the State's second highest appeal court.
The father and daughter are now serving sentences of between 20 and 25 years in separate North Carolina prisons.
Mr Corbett died from horrific head injuries sustained during a prolonged assault at the luxury home he shared with his Tennessee-born wife at Panther Creek Court in the US state.
The weapons used were a metal baseball bat and a heavy concrete paving brick.
Mr Corbett was pronounced dead at the scene and prosecutors claimed during the murder trial that the father and daughter faked CPR attempts and then deliberately delayed calling 911 for help for the father-of-two.
It was also suggested that Mr Corbett may have been asleep and helpless in bed when he was first attacked.
The father and daughter are now also defending a wrongful death civil suit filed against them.
The action also lists Thomas Martens's wife, Sharon, as a co-defendant.
Both the father and daughter have requested that the civil proceedings be delayed given that they are both challenging their criminal convictions.
They have also requested that any hearing of the civil proceedings take place outside Davidson County.
It is now expected that the North Carolina Court of Appeals will not commence any hearings of the case until all matters in Davidson County are resolved.
Judge David Lee of Davidson County Superior Court has already received affidavits in support of the demand by the father and daughter for the conviction to be set aside because of alleged juror misconduct.
Legal teams for both have claimed that there were discussions between some jurors despite the warnings of Judge Lee.
They are both seeking a full retrial.
That has been opposed by Davidson County District Attorney's Office which has argued, in detailed legal submissions, that there was no such misconduct as to warrant the conviction to be quashed and a retrial ordered.
During the murder trial, the father and daughter claimed they acted entirely in self-defence.
However, both were found to be totally uninjured at the scene.
In contrast, Mr Corbett's skull had been crushed after he sustained a minimum of 12 blows from a metal baseball bat and a concrete garden paving brick.
His skull was so badly crushed that a pathologist could not determine the precise number of blows he had sustained.
It also emerged during the trial that traces of a powerful sedative, trazodone, which had been prescribed to Ms Martens-Corbett three days before the killing, had been found in her husband's system.
Mr Corbett had repeatedly declined to sign adoption papers in favour of Ms Martens-Corbett, his second wife, involving his two children.
The Limerick man lost his first wife Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick to a tragic asthma attack when she was just 30.
- Molly Martens The Making of a Murderer part one is included free with today's Irish Independent on Saturday. Part two of the book by Ralph Riegel will be with tomorrow's Sunday Independent