Thursday 14 November 2019

Gruesome details revealed in trial's opening left even veteran journalists shocked

Molly Corbett leaves the Davidson County Courthouse in Lexington, North Carolina. Photo: Elise Manahan
Molly Corbett leaves the Davidson County Courthouse in Lexington, North Carolina. Photo: Elise Manahan

Ralph Riegel

The graphic nature of the prosecution's murder trial opening took even veteran American reporters by surprise.

The nature and extent of the head injuries that cost Limerick native and father-of-two Jason Corbett (39) his life two years ago made many in Courtroom C of Davidson County Superior Court in Lexington blanch.

One American reporter later said he had never before heard a murder trial opening like it.

As the opening statement of District Attorney Alan Martin became increasingly graphic outlining the grim nature of the injuries from which the packaging industry executive died, Molly Martens-Corbett (33) raised a hand to her face.

It was unclear if she wiped away a tear.

Later, she bowed her head slightly forward, as if resting her face in her hand.

Flanked by her two lawyers, Walter Holton and Cheryl Andrews, she did not speak during the 45-minute trial opening by Judge David Lee, the prosecutor and the two defence teams.

Wearing a simple blue dress and black cardigan for the air-conditioned chill of the Lexington courtroom while temperatures outside on the street hovered above 32C, Ms Martens-Corbett entered the courts complex yesterday morning walking alone and slightly ahead of her legal team.

She ignored the large media contingent outside the Salem Street courts' entrance, which included five TV crews for both North Carolina and national US TV stations.

There were also reporters and photographers from both US and Irish newspapers.

With her long blonde hair tied in a pony tail by a single black ribbon, Ms Martens-Corbett sat in the courtroom just over two metres from her father and fellow defendant, Thomas Martens (67).

Mr Martens, a lawyer and retired FBI agent, sat in court wearing a smart suit and stared intently ahead as the opening arguments were made.

Like his daughter, he was flanked by his legal team of David Freedman and Jones Byrd.

Behind Mr Martens, in the public gallery, sat his wife Sharon, his brother-in-law Michael Earnest, and his sons.

Two of his sons will now offer defence evidence in the case.

Immediately after the trial opening concluded, Mr Martens went with his daughter and their respective legal teams into a consultation room directly beside Courtroom C.

Across the Courtroom C aisle sat members of the Corbett family including Jason's brother Wayne, his sister Tracey, and his brother-in-law David Lynch.

They were supported by extended family members and friends, virtually all of whom have travelled over to North Carolina from Limerick for the trial.

Both families left the courtroom at different times - and both remained hushed as the graphic State opening detailed the multiple injuries from which Mr Corbett died.

Irish Independent

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