'Jason wanted to take children back home', his sister tells trial
The sister of Jason Corbett has revealed her brother was homesick and lonely in the US and wanted to move back to Ireland in time for his son's secondary school education.
Tracey Lynch told a North Carolina murder trial he had mentioned moving back to Ireland as early as 2014, just three years after his relocation to the US and more than 12 months before his death.
Thomas Martens (67) and his daughter Molly Martens (33) deny the second-degree murder of Mr Corbett on August 2, 2015.
Mr Corbett's wife and father-in-law argued they acted in self-defence at the Panther Creek property and claimed Mr Corbett had attacked Ms Martens and threatened to kill her.
The Limerick packaging industry executive died from catastrophic skull injuries inflicted by at least 12 blows in the bedroom of his home.
One of the injuries was inflicted after Mr Corbett had stopped breathing.
Both the father and daughter were found to be uninjured at the scene by police and paramedics.
Mrs Lynch said she was surprised when Ms Martens messaged her in 2015 to ask her about the date for the 80th birthday of Mr Corbett's father.
"I was surprised she was asking me and not asking Jason," she said.
Mrs Lynch said her brother had not mentioned to her about Ms Martens returning to Ireland with him.
"He was homesick and lonely. He had good friends [in North Carolina] and he appreciated them.
"He planned to move back to Ireland before Jack [his son]started secondary school."
Mrs Lynch said her brother planned to be in Ireland for his father's 80th birthday party, but had not mentioned to his sister that his wife would be travelling with him.
"Jason never told me Molly was returning for the birthday. Jason said it was himself and the children," she added.
Mrs Lynch is now bringing up her brother's two children, Jack and Sarah.
She also recalled to the Davidson County Superior Court how her brother had desperately fought to save his first wife and mother of his two children, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, when she suffered a severe asthma attack in 2006.
"She couldn't breathe," she said. "Jason rang 999 and put her in the car to drive her to hospital. On the way she stopped breathing. He wanted to cut the distance [to the approaching ambulance].
"Jason then stopped the car and started cardiac pulmonary resuscitation. He brought her back."
Tragically, Mrs Corbett later died on her way to hospital in an ambulance.
Mrs Lynch said she helped, with her husband David, to care for her brother's two children, Jack and Sarah, before he advertised for an au pair/nanny to help him.
She said she was out of Ireland when her brother hired Ms Martens and met her for the first time in 2008.
A relationship developed between her brother and Ms Martens and they married in Tennessee in 2011. Her brother then got employment in North Carolina the same year with the firm he worked for in Ireland.
She said they remained in very close contact - she would visit North Carolina with her husband and children while Jason would travel to Ireland with his family to reciprocate every year.
Mrs Lynch confirmed that her brother had intended to visit Limerick in the days before their father's 80th birthday on September 2, 2015.
Earlier, Mr Martens was asked by Judge David Lee to confirm that he understood the potential implications of him not objecting to the full statement made by his daughter to the Davidson County Sheriff's Department on August 2, 2015, just hours after her husband's death, being introduced into evidence.
Judge Lee asked Mr Martens whether he understood that second-degree murder carried, on conviction in North Carolina, a potential sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
"Yes, your honour. Yes, sir," Mr Martens said.
He also told Judge Lee he understood the possibility that elements of "the statement may incriminate" him.
"Yes, your honour. Yes," Mr Martens said. The defendant, who is a retired FBI agent, confirmed he was also a qualified lawyer. The Davidson County Sheriff's department officer who led the investigation, Lt Det Wanda Thompson, also testified that Ms Martens agreed to give a written statement to police about what happened at the Panther Creek property after talking with the detective for an hour.
Lt Det Thompson confirmed that both the oral interview with Ms Martens and her subsequent written statement were both subject to audio-visual recording at the police station.
Lt Det Thompson gave evidence despite strenuous objections by defence counsels, David Freedman and Walter Holton, who both asked Judge Lee to impeach her and disallow her testimony on the basis of issues over the Davidson County Sheriff's Office investigation.
The lawyers for the two defendants pointed out that they, and the Davidson County District Attorney's Office, had received detailed documentation pertaining to contacts between an investigating officer and an insurance company official on July 19, two days into the murder trial.
Further, they argued that an examination of these recordings had underlined several alleged discrepancies.
Mr Holton claimed the insurance official was told his client, Ms Martens, had both refused to make a statement at Davidson County Sheriff's Office and had demanded to see a lawyer on August 2, 2015.
Mr Holton pointed out that, in fact, she had both made a statement and not requested the presence of an attorney.
He also said the insurance official, who is based outside North Carolina, indicated in conversations with a police official that they had cited a $600,000 (€505,000) insurance policy in relation to the Corbetts rather than the actual $200,000 (€168,000) amount.
Mr Holton said he accepted that the District Attorney's Office had acted properly at all times.
He added that it had passed the relevant information to them immediately they received it themselves.
Mr Holton said the insurance official had now refused to be interviewed by the defence teams and has refused to attend the trial.
He said the defence had not had sufficient time to issue a subpoena in the state where the official is based.
The trial continues.