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Monday 20 November 2017

Jurors 'talked about evidence during breaks in Molly murder trial'

Molly Martens was convicted of second-degree murder
Molly Martens was convicted of second-degree murder

A US judge has directed the legal teams for convicted murderers Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens to have all motions in relation to their demand for a full retrial submitted by next Friday.

The deadline also applies to the Davidson County District Attorney's Office, which is challenging defence claims that there should be a full retrial over the killing of Irish businessman Jason Corbett (39), due to juror misconduct.

Davidson County Superior Court will then consider the detailed legal motions submitted.

It is unclear whether a case hearing will be ordered to allow the motions to be debated openly.

The Tennessee father and daughter were unanimously convicted by a jury of nine women and three men on August 9 of the second-degree murder of the Limerick father-of-two, who was married to Ms Martens. Both were given minimum 20-year prison terms.

Mr Corbett died from horrific head injuries in the bedroom of his luxury home at Panther Creek Court on August 2, 2015.

The injuries were inflicted by a metal baseball bat and a heavy concrete garden paving brick.

Both Ms Martens and Mr Martens claimed self-defence - but both were found to be totally uninjured at the scene.

Ms Martens was soaked in her husband's blood and it was suggested during the trial that the first blow was sustained by Mr Corbett when he was either in or by his bed.

Now, defence teams have launched a twin-pronged challenge to the convictions.

Formal appeal papers have been lodged with the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

However, the lawyers have also lodged motions with Davidson County Superior Court demanding that the convictions be quashed and a full retrial ordered on the basis of juror misconduct.

Affidavit

Papers lodged alleged that jurors spoke of matters which had not been dealt with by the trial in subsequent interviews.

Further, the defence papers have raised issues over contacts between at least two jury members before the verdict was announced.

An affidavit has also been submitted from an alternate juror, who has claimed he overheard other jurors talking about the case.

Brian Graham made the sworn statement, which was submitted by the defence teams.

In his affidavit, he said he tried to keep to himself and did not eat with other jurors so he would not be involved in any conversation about the case.

"However, at certain breaks during the trial, I overheard other jurors in the jury room and outside the courthouse commenting on the evidence presented or, in some cases, asking questions about the evidence," Mr Graham said.

"Usually when this occurred, another member of the jury would remind the group that we were not supposed to talk about the evidence.

"But, on at least one occasion, a conversation about the evidence took place between the jurors for two to three minutes, despite the warning by the court and some other jurors not to discuss."

Mr Graham said he did not initially think it was his role to report the comments to the court, but has since decided to share what he knew.

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