Friday 24 May 2019

Settlement proposed in wrongful-death lawsuit taken by Corbett family against murderer Molly Martens

Molly Martens, who, along with her father, Thomas Martens, murdered her husband Jason Corbett. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens, who, along with her father, Thomas Martens, murdered her husband Jason Corbett. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch

Ralph Riegel

A US insurance firm has proposed an outline settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit taken against Molly Martens (34) and her FBI agent father Tom Martens (68) over the brutal murder of Irish father of two, Jason Corbett (39).

The lawsuit was taken against the American father and daughter, as well as Mr Martens' wife, Sharon Martens, by the Irish family of their victim, Jason Corbett (39), in a bid to protect his two orphaned children.

Tom Martens, a retired FBI agent, has claimed he feared for the safety of his daughter in the months before the brutal murder of his Irish son-in-law in August 2015.

That has been emphatically challenged in new US documents lodged on behalf of North Carolina prosecutors.

Thomas Martens, pictured, and daughter Molly are appealing
Thomas Martens, pictured, and daughter Molly are appealing

Now, it has emerged that a US insurance firm acting for the Martens has proposed a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit lodged by Mr Corbett's family in June 2017.

The Winston Salem Journal indicated a settlement was being proposed but that no legal documents had been lodged in North Carolina courts yet in respect of the deal.

Irish Independent sources have learned that a notice was filed in a Federal court by the insurance firm involved over a proposed settlement.

In the US, it is commonplace for families to have insurance policies which protect them against specific forms of legal action.

The proposed settlement would involve a contribution from the insurance firm as well as a significant payment from the Martens family.

However, no final agreement has been reached over the 18 month old action against the Martens.

The four parties to the action are now being briefed on the terms of the proposed agreement.

No amount has been specified.

The Corbett family in Limerick have declined to comment on the matter.

It is understood that a court date will be sought early in the New Year to outline the proposed settlement and seek a confirmed

settlement.

A final agreement is expected to take some time to hammer out given that four different sets of attorneys are involved.

The wrongful death lawsuit was lodged against Tom, Molly and Sharon Martens.

Molly Martens was also effectively blocked from receiving a payment from another insurance company which held a policy on her husband's life.

That policy initially included Ms Martens and Mr Corbett's two children as beneficiaries in the event of his death.

However, in the months before his death the policy was changed, via online access, to leave Ms Martens as the sole beneficiary.

Both Tom and Molly Martens are also appealing their convictions for the second degree murder of Mr Corbett.

North Carolina Court of Appeals will rule on the challenges to the convictions next year.

The father and daughter are currently serving 20-25 year sentences in North Carolina prisons over the brutal murder of Mr Corbett on August 2 2015 who was beaten to death with a brick and a baseball bat.

Both are now appealing their convictions on the basis they claim they acted entirely in self defence.

The appeal has also challenged juror behaviour and expert forensic evidence offered by the prosecution.

Mr Martens - a retired FBI agent - insisted he only struck his son-in-law with a baseball bat when he claimed he saw him holding Ms Martens by the throat.

His legal team were not allowed introduce evidence at the Davidson County Superior Court trial where he claimed the father of Mr Corbett's late first wife, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, alleged he held the Limerick businessman responsible for her death.

This was vehemently denied by Michael Fitzpatrick and the Fitzpatrick family.

Mags Fitzpatrick Corbett died from a severe asthma attack on November 21 2006, just weeks after giving birth to her second child, Sarah.

Her husband frantically tried to resuscitate her after having driven to meet an ambulance to get her critical medical attention at

University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

He then met Tennessee-native Molly Martens when she moved to Ireland to work as a nanny minding his two children, Jack and Sarah, two years later.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who was gravely ill in 2015/16, made a sworn affidavit with an Irish solicitor challenging Mr Martens allegations.

Mr Martens initially claimed he had heard the comments from Mr Fitzpatrick at a time and date in the US - but Mr Fitzpatrick indicated he was not even in the US at that time.

The time and date was subsequently revised - but Mr Fitzpatrick, who has since passed away, remained resolute he never made any such comments at any time to the former FBI agent.

His affidavit was a key element of the prosecution rebuttal case but was ultimately never entered in evidence at the trial.

The trial judge had described Mr Martens' statement and claims about Mr Fitzpatrick as "self-serving" and "prejudicial."

But the affidavit is now one of the documents cited by the North Carolina state attorneys in full defence of the appellant claims.

North Carolina Department of Justice officials have now dismissed the appeal claims of self defence as "fantasy" and "a fabrication."

While Mr Corbett was found with horrific head injuries at the scene, both Tom and Molly Martens were uninjured.

Neither had so much as a scratch or a bruise when photographed at the scene by Davidson County police.

Mr Corbett had been struck more than a dozen times and his skull had shattered in multiple places.

The brick used to hit him was found soaked in his blood, tissue and hair at the scene.

During the five week trial, Mr Martens acknowledged in cross-examination that he had never previously seen his Irish son-in-law threaten or harm his daughter.

Further, the trial heard that police were never called to the Corbett home for any disturbance.

The State case is that the father and daughter fabricated the self-defence story to explain their brutal killing of Mr Corbett.

The Corbett family maintain he was attacked and killed because he planned to move back to Ireland with his two children amid concerns over the increasingly bizarre behaviour of Ms Martens who had a history of mental health problems.

"Together they created this fantasy to deceive the authorities and this jury in a fabricated story participated in by both defendants, acting in concert together, to attain the ultimate result that they intended," one North Carolina Department of Justice document stated.

The State argued that the excessive use of force was so blatant and overwhelming it negated any possible suggestion of self defence.

Critical blood spatter analysis evidence indicated that Mr Corbett was asleep in bed when first attacked.

After being attacked by his wife and father-in-law while in bed, Mr Corbett was then cruelly left to die on the bedroom floor as

prosecutors stated the father and daughter delayed ringing emergency services to ensure he would die.

Paramedics immediately noted when they arrived that Mr Corbett's body was cold to the touch.

Ms Martens was obsessed with securing custody of her husband's two children, visiting a divorce lawyer in the US to determine her rights to them just weeks after she had married Mr Corbett in 2011.

Mr Corbett had steadfastly refused to sign adoption papers in favour of his US wife.

Both Ms Martens and Mr Martens lodged appeal papers last September with the State having until last week to respond.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruling is not expected before next summer.

If the father and daughter fail to win a retrial with the Court of Appeal, their final recourse is the North Carolina Supreme Court.

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