herald

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Murderer Molly and father launch bid to overturn convictions

Molly Martens (p) and her father Tom were jailed for the murder of Jason Corbett
Molly Martens (p) and her father Tom were jailed for the murder of Jason Corbett

The killers of Irish businessman Jason Corbett (39) are appealing the decision of a US judge not to quash their convictions and order a new trial.

Father and daughter, Tom (67) and Molly Martens (34), are to challenge the decision by a North Carolina court not to set aside their convictions for second degree murder on the basis of alleged jury misconduct.

That appeal is now expected to be heard in tandem with an overall challenge to their conviction to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Both appeals are likely to be heard in a twin-track process.

Last August, Mr Martens, a retired FBI agent, and his daughter, Ms Martens, were convicted of the second degree murder of Mr Corbett, a Limerick-born businessman, on August 2, 2015.

Tom Martens
Tom Martens

They were sentenced to between 20 and 25 years in prison after being unanimously convicted by a Davidson County Superior Court jury.

Their legal teams immediately lodged a challenge to the overall conviction to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

However, they also lodged a challenge with Davidson County Superior Court after claiming the convictions were unsafe on the basis of alleged juror misconduct.

Last December, Judge David Lee rejected the challenge. Judge Lee was the trial judge for the four-week murder hearing.

Defence legal teams had lodged detailed submissions that certain jurors had ignored his instructions not to discuss the case before verdict deliberations began.

Jurors

They also challenged elements of what certain jurors said in media interviews following the trial. Judge Lee, after considering the matter for almost three months, rejected the defence applications and refused both to set aside the conviction and order a retrial.

Davidson County District Attorney's Office had vehemently opposed the Martens' challenge and argued that there were no legal grounds for granting their applications.

Lawyers for the father and daughter are now appealing that ruling.

Both challenges are set to be heard in mid 2018 by the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Mr Corbett died from horrific head injuries sustained during a prolonged assault at the luxury home at Panther Creek Court in the US state he shared with his Tennessee-born second wife.

The weapons used to kill Mr Corbett were a metal baseball bat and a heavy concrete paving brick.

Prosecutors claimed during the murder trial that the father and daughter faked CPR attempts.

It was claimed they then delayed calling 911 for help for the father-of-two.

It was also suggested that Mr Corbett may have been asleep and helpless in bed when he was first attacked.

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