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Thursday 14 December 2017

Jury shown Molly's and dad's clothes spattered in Jason's blood

Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens are accused of killing Jason Corbett
Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens are accused of killing Jason Corbett

A forensic DNA expert has confirmed that murdered dad-of-two Jason Corbett's DNA was found on a baseball bat and a brick recovered from the bedroom of his blood-soaked home where he was discovered with fatal head injuries.

His DNA was also found on the pyjamas of his second wife, Molly Martens Corbett, and the polo shirt and boxer shorts of his father-in-law, Thomas Michael Martens.

The bloodied brick found at the scene contained 25 hairs, 12 of which were confirmed as matching the Limerick father-of-two's hair samples, the jury was told.

The murder trial of Molly Martens (33) and her father, Thomas Michael Martens (67), a retired FBI agent, entered its 10th day at Davidson County Superior Court before Judge David Lee and a jury of nine women and three men.

strangle

Both defendants deny the second degree murder of Mr Corbett (39) on August 2, 2015 - two years ago tomorrow - at the luxury home he shared with second wife Molly at Panther Creek, between Lexington and Winston-Salem.

The pair claim they acted in self-defence after alleging that Mr Corbett attacked his wife and was trying to strangle her.

Mr Corbett died from at least 12 severe blows to the head, which shattered his skull. The trial has been hearing evidence in the case since last Tuesday.

The trial heard from forensic DNA expert Wendell Ivory that his tests for DNA proved positive on both the Louisville Slugger Little League baseball bat and the garden paving brick recovered in Mr Corbett's bedroom in his Panther Creek home on August 2 2015.

Mr Ivory, an expert with the North Carolina State Crime laboratory, said he conducted tests on the bat, the paving brick as well as items of clothing including a pyjamas, a red polo shirt and pair of boxer shorts.

The clothing was taken by Davidson County police from Thomas Martens and Molly Martens Corbett.

"There was generalised staining of the bat. There were multiple indicators present of blood on the bat," Mr Ivory said.

He said the DNA tests on the items matched the DNA sample received from Jason Corbett.

Mr Ivory said the match was 1 in 1.99 trillion chance compared to the North Carolina DNA Database for the Caucasian population.

Earlier, Lt Frank Young, the Davidson County crime scene examiner, opened a number of brown paper evidence bags to show items to the jury - including the baseball bat, paving brick, Ms Martens' blue pyjama set and Mr Martens' red Izod polo shirt and white patterned boxer shorts.

The father and daughter remained impassive as their blood-spattered clothing was shown item by item to the jury. The black Little League Louisville Slugger baseball bat is 28 inches long and made of aluminium.

The trial previously heard it was brought to Panther Creek by Mr Martens as a gift for Mr Corbett's young son. Both the baseball bat and the paving brick had visible stains on them, Lt Young confirmed.

"I found the bat in the master bedroom of the residence - the bat was standing in front of the dresser," he said. "It is a Louisville Slugger aluminium baseball bat. I believe it is 28 inches."

The only difference to the bat from when he found it on August 2 was the presence of volcanic ash traces used by forensic examiners to take fingerprint samples, Lt Young said.

He also showed the paving brick he seized at the scene to the jury. Lt Young also displayed the pyjamas, polo shirt and boxer shorts, with blood spatters visible on them.

In cross-examination with defence counsel, Lt Young confirmed he took a photo of Mr Corbett in a body bag on the driveway of his home where there was a hair visible entwined in his right hand.

The trial has already heard that no such hair was noted in Mr Corbett's hand at the pathology examination.

"I did not see a hair root," Lt Young said. "I don't remember seeing any hair in the left hand."

He confirmed that he did not take samples from underneath the fingernails of either Mr Corbett or Ms Martens at the scene.

Mr Corbett's blood-covered hands were, similarly, not forensically 'bagged' - a process that preserves all evidential material. However, there was no visible injury to Ms Martens to justify such an action as "bagging" Mr Corbett's hands, Lt Young confirmed to assistant district attorney Greg Brown.

Photos were taken that showed blood on the bottoms of Mr Corbett's feet, Lt Young also confirmed. The murder trial also heard that the brick found yielded a total of 25 hairs for forensic inspection.

Twelve of the hairs recovered were, under analysis, consistent with the hair samples taken from Mr Corbett's scalp, Melanie Carson, a North Carolina State Crime Laboratory official, told the judge and the jury.

No identifying fingerprints were found on the blood-soaked baseball bat found at the scene, the laboratory's fingerprint expert, Adrianne Reeve, revealed to the court.

threatened

Both defendants have argued self-defence and claimed Mr Corbett attacked his wife and threatened to kill her. Her father said he then intervened and struck Mr Corbett to defend them both, the court was told.

However, Ms Martens and Mr Martens were found by Davidson County police and paramedics to be uninjured at the scene - with no bruises, cuts, abrasions or visible wounds.

Ms Martens declined to attend a hospital for a medical check. Lt Young said he took a photo that showed blood on Ms Martens' hair, forehead, cheek and behind her left ear.

The mark behind her ear could have been a scratch, defence counsel Walter Holton suggested. However, Lt Young said he did not physically examine the mark and did not test it.

He confirmed that a blood pattern expert examined the crime scene, and photos of the markings singled out by the expert have already been shown to the jury. Assistant district attorneys Greg Brown, Alan Martin and Ina Stanton hope that the detailed blood pattern analysis will explain the precise sequence of blows suffered by Mr Corbett.

An analysis of the blood spatter marks in all the rooms - but particularly the master bedroom - will focus on where Mr Corbett's head was when it was struck repeatedly by the two objects. The angle and spray pattern of the blood found on the walls will be used to determine Mr Corbett's posture when he was being struck.

At least one of the major blows suffered by Mr Corbett was post-mortem, or sustained after his heart had stopped beating, pathologist Dr Craig Nelson has already indicated to the jury. Two head-shaped blood imprints on the wall of the bedroom were found to be at a relatively low level.

The blood pattern expert will also address a number of as-yet-unexplained indentations on the plaster walls. A plastic switch plate (a socket cover), just off the ground, was found to be blood-spattered and also to be cracked.

Mr Corbett suffered at least 12 major blows, but such was the catastrophic damage to two rear portions of his skull - where multiple impacts had been sustained - that it was impossible to make an accurate count of the total number of blows, Dr Nelson said.

One skull wound was assessed as not having been made by the baseball bat. The violence of the impacts meant that fragments of his skull were driven into Mr Corbett's brain.

The trial continues.

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