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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Jason 'killed by wife for money and his kids', murder trial told

Jason Corbett
Jason Corbett
Thomas Martens
Molly Martens Corbett

Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens bludgeoned Irish businessman Jason Corbett to death, delayed making a 911 emergency call and then engaged in a "fake" cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) effort, their trial has heard.

The murder trial heard closing arguments before a North Carolina jury was sent out to consider a verdict.

Both Ms Martens (33) and Mr Martens (67), a retired FBI agent, deny the second-degree murder of the Limerick businessman in the bedroom of his luxury North Carolina home two years ago.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown told the jury that Ms Martens had a motive - the fact she would get the marital home, its contents, a $600,000 (€510,000) insurance policy payout and - most important to her - Mr Corbett's two children.

Mr Brown pointed out that Mr Corbett had repeatedly refused to sign adoption papers for his second wife, giving her equal rights to his children.

He also had plans to return to Ireland with them.

Mr Brown said Mr Corbett's "blood now screams for justice".

"We will never know if Jason Corbett tried to cry out. Did he plead for his life, or did he think of his two children?" he said.

He claimed the Irish businessman was victim of a "heinous, atrocious and cruel" attack".

Truth

"Jason cannot speak out to you today but his blood speaks the truth and screams for justice," he said.

Mr Brown said in closing arguments that the forensic evidence indicated that both defendants acted to support their story of acting in self-defence.

"All the evidence conclusively shows that excessive force was used [to cause] the heinous, atrocious and cruel death of Jason Corbett," he said.

"[They were also] staging for their story.

"Jason was left to die before 911 was ever called, so as to allow the FBI agent and lawyer to develop the story he was going to tell."

Mr Brown said paramedics found dry, flaky blood and the congealed blood of Mr Corbett at the scene - indicating the 911 call had not been made immediately, as claimed by the father and daughter.

"He was bludgeoned to death by Thomas Martens and Molly Martens with a metal baseball bat and a concrete brick," Mr Brown said.

"The State would suggest to you that Mr Martens was calm and not even out of breath after a battle for his life and that of his daughter."

Mr Brown said that paramedics and police who attended the scene within minutes of the 911 call being made found no blood on Mr Martens' hands - despite the fact he claimed he had just performed 400 chest pumps on the blood-soaked body of his son-in-law.

The Irishman's body was also found to be "cool".

Mr Brown said the State contended the duo engaged in "fake CPR" and had further delayed calling 911.

He said the State argued the evidence also supported the contention they had acted to support their self-defence story.

"There was not one drop of blood on his [Mr Martens] hands," he said.

"They said they called 911 'the minute he went down'. But that is not supported by the evidence."

"It is not self-defence - this is second-degree murder.

"Why didn't he stop when Jason was on the ground? Why did he continue to bludgeon him? Why didn't they stop?

"Malice? Yes. Hatred? Yes. Excessive force? Yes.

"The evidence is that Jason was retreating... he was naked in his marital bedroom and unarmed. His children were asleep in the house."

Mr Brown said that injuries to Mr Corbett's hand and arm suggested he may have desperately tried to defend himself.

He argued that Mr Martens' decision to grab a baseball bat and bring it to Mr Corbett's bedroom suggest that he intended to attack his son-in-law early that morning.

The defence case for Mr Martens and his daughter ended with the young Tennessee woman opting not to give sworn testimony, as the trial entered its fourth week.

A charge of voluntary manslaughter, which was originally dropped on the opening day of the trial, will now be included on the verdict paper issued to jurors.

Judge David Lee again rejected renewed applications from the two defence teams for the charges to be dismissed before the jury began deliberations.

Both David Freedman, for Mr Martens, and Walter Holton, for Ms Martens, argued for the dismissal, claiming that the prosecution evidence does not show malice and does not illustrate anything other than self-defence.

The jury of nine women and three men will now consider a verdict on the charges facing the father and daughter.

Evidence

Their defence team yesterday opted not to call two of Ms Martens' brothers to offer sworn evidence.

The Davidson County trial had been repeatedly told that defence testimony would be offered by two of her brothers - Bobby, Stewart or Connor.

They were late additions to the defence witness list.

A number of written submissions were made by Ms Martens' lawyers, Mr Holton and Cheryl Andrews, to the jury.

Among the items submitted was a copy of Mr Corbett's will, dating from April 11, 2007.

Ms Martens confirmed to Judge Lee she was exercising her constitutional right not to offer sworn evidence at the trial.

Ms Martens also said she understood that no inference can be taken by the jury from her decision not to testify.

Both the father and daughter insisted they acted entirely in self-defence in inflicting fatal head injuries on the 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 home at Panther Creek, outside Lexington.

Second-degree murder can carry, on conviction, a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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