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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Molly's brothers to give evidence in murder trial

Molly Martens. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Thomas Martens
Jason Corbett

Two of Jason Corbett's US brothers-in-law will offer defence testimony today as the North Carolina murder trial of their father and sister reaches its conclusion.

Retired FBI agent Thomas Martens (67) and his daughter Molly Martens (33) deny the second degree murder of Mr Corbett (39) two years ago.

Their trial before Judge David Lee and a Davidson County Superior Court jury of nine women and three men is now entering its fourth week.

Both insist they acted in self-defence in inflicting fatal head injuries on the Limerick businessman and father-of-two in the early hours of August 2, 2015.

The Janesboro native was found with horrific head injuries inflicted by a metal baseball bat and a stone garden paving brick in the master bedroom of his luxury home at Panther Creek outside Lexington.

Catastrophic

The injuries were so catastrophic that a pathologist indicated an accurate count of the number of blows could not be made, instead stating that Mr Corbett was struck at least 12 times in the skull.

Both the father and daughter were uninjured.

Mr Corbett married Ms Martens in 2011.

He met the Tennessee woman when he advertised for an au pair/nanny to help him look after his two children following the tragic death from asthma of his wife, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick. After the wedding, Mr Corbett agreed to relocate his family to the US because his second wife was homesick.

Now, two of Ms Martens' three brothers - Connor, Bobby or Stewart - will offer testimony in defence of their father and sister.

The brothers will testify as to the nature of the relationship and marriage between Mr Corbett and their sister. They will also testify as to their family dealings with Mr Corbett.

The defence teams of David Freedman, for Mr Martens, and Walter Holton, for Ms Martens, are also expected to introduce technical evidence in support of the self-defence claims.

Mr Martens, a qualified lawyer, offered evidence on Friday in which he insisted he feared for the life of himself and his daughter that morning. His daughter is not expected to offer testimony, as is her right under the US Constitution.

Mr Martens insisted he struck Mr Corbett, who was naked and unarmed, only to protect himself and his daughter. He also claimed the Irishman had his daughter by the throat during an argument in the master bedroom.

"I hit him until I considered the threat to be over," he said.

"I made the decision to hit him in the back of the head with the baseball bat to end the threat to my daughter."

However, he said he could not recall striking Mr Corbett while he lay helpless on the ground, or swinging the baseball bat so hard it knocked indentations in the bedroom wall.

He confirmed his wife, Sharon Martens, was in a basement bedroom in the Corbett home but did not come up to the master bedroom at any stage.

Neither Mr Martens nor Ms Martens called out to the mother-of-four at any stage to either call 911 or offer them help.

Mr Martens confirmed he did not like his Irish son-in-law, but rejected Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown's suggestion he was attempting to take the blame for his daughter over what had happened.

The Knoxville resident said he had urged his daughter to consult with lawyers and to divorce the Irishman.

"He did not measure up to what I thought my daughter's standard should be," he said.

However, Mr Martens said he could not recall conversations with work colleagues who said he had called his son-in-law "an asshole" and admitted he "hated him".

This was despite Mr Corbett paying $390,000 (€331,000) for the couple's Panther Creek home and giving his new wife $80,000 (€68,000) to furnish it.

He had also paid his father-in-law $49,000 (€42,000) towards the cost of their Tennessee wedding.

Custody

Ms Martens drove a BMW SUV and did not work beyond volunteer swim coach duties.

The trial heard that she is now the main beneficiary of a $600,000 (€510,000) life insurance policy on her husband.

A wrongful death lawsuit has now been launched against Mr Martens, his wife Sharon Martens and Ms Martens by Mr Corbett's Irish family, who are raising his two children, Jack and Sarah. They were given guardianship after a custody battle in the US.

Judge Lee has indicated that, once the defence case concludes, closing arguments will take place and the jury will be charged. He expects that to take place either today or tomorrow.

Under North Carolina law, any verdict must be unanimous among all 12 jurors. Second degree murder can carry, on conviction, a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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