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Thursday 19 October 2017

Wife accused of Irishman's murder wants trial moved

Molly Martens and Lawyer Walter Holton
Molly Martens and Lawyer Walter Holton

The American wife and father-in-law of Irishman Jason Corbett have sought to move their murder trial next month to a different location, because they claim they cannot get a fair trial in the place where he was killed.

Molly Martens Corbett (35) and her father, former FBI agent Thomas Michael Martens (67), are each accused of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter at the Corbett home in North Carolina on August 2, 2015.

Thomas Martens has admitted hitting Mr Corbett with a baseball bat at the house, but has claimed that the Limerick man was choking Ms Martens at the time during a massive argument.

Yesterday the framework to decide what evidence can be used in the trial, due to take place next month in Davidson County, North Carolina, was being finalised in pre-trial submissions submitted by both the prosecution and defence.

False

Lawyer for Ms Martens, Walter Holton, argued that adverse publicity meant the trial should not be heard in Davidson County.

He said that what he called false information had been released to the media about the case in the early stages and that this information had been spread "locally, nationally and internationally".

He added that the social media effect had then spread this information "like wildfire with gasoline".

He claimed that information released from official documents, which said Mr Corbett was planning on returning home to Ireland for good with his two children, and that Ms Martens would not be part of that plan, were not true.

He also denied that claims Mr Corbett was planning on transferring assets to Ireland ahead of the trip were anything to do with relocating in Ireland.

Lawyer for the State Greg Brown argued that witnesses will be witnesses no matter where they testify and that a fair trial is possible in Davidson County.

The killing of Mr Corbett sent shockwaves through communities on both sides of the Atlantic.

His first wife, Margaret, died during an asthma attack in 2006. The couple had two children together - a boy, Jack, and a girl, Sarah.

Mr Corbett met Ms Martens in 2008 when the American woman moved to Ireland from Tennessee to work as an au pair for the children.

He and the children later moved to the US and the couple married in 2011, settling down in the exclusive Meadowlands estate on the edge of a scenic golf resort.

Former FBI agent Thomas Martens has lodged a motion to the court claiming that the father of Mr Corbett's first wife suspected he [Jason] was involved in her death.

In the motion he claims he was "approached by Michael Fitzpatrick (since deceased), the father of Jason Corbett's late first wife Margaret Corbett" at his daughter and Jason's wedding in 2011.

"On that occasion, Mr Fitzpatrick told Mr Martens that he believed that Jason Corbett had caused the death of his daughter Margaret," it said.

Mr Martens' pre-trial motion also details how he wishes to claim "self-defence and the defence of others" in the murder trial.

"Specifically, during the alleged altercation that resulted in the death of Jason Corbett, Mr Martens witnessed Jason Corbett, a man far larger and more physically powerful than he or his daughter, choking his daughter and threatening to kill her, and thereafter acted in defence of his daughter and, eventually, in his own defence," it said.

It adds that Mr Martens was allegedly aware of Jason Corbett's size during the assault, and that "Mr Fitzpatrick had represented to him that he believed his daughter's death to have come at the hands of Jason Corbett".

Battle

After Jason's killing a protracted custody battle ensued over the two children. Ms Martens said she wanted to raise them in the US, but Jason's family wanted to bring them back to Ireland. Jack was 10 and Sarah was eight when their father was killed.

In the end, Mr Corbett's sister Tracey, and her husband David, who also attended yesterday's sitting, were granted custody of the children by a North Carolina court, and they now live in Ireland.

Even after the children were settled in Ireland, Ms Martens would post messages and photographs to them on her Facebook page.

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