The killer of Irish father-of-two Jason Corbett has been refused temporary release from a US prison because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tom Martens (69), who was convicted along with his daughter Molly Martens (35) of the second-degree murder of widower Mr Corbett (39), formally sought temporary release on bond from a North Carolina prison at a special custody hearing yesterday.
Martens, who did not attend the hearing, supported his application with testimonies on his FBI career and his status as a model inmate at the Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville since 2017.
It emerged that Martens had worked in the prison library and helped with the education of other inmates.
However, his application for temporary release was opposed both by North Carolina prosecutors and by Mr Corbett's Limerick-based family.
Shortly after the brief hearing, North Carolina prison officials indicated that the submission had been denied.
The former FBI agent will now remain behind bars pending the hearing of his joint appeal, with his daughter, against his conviction by the North Carolina Supreme Court.
It is understood the application was rejected on the basis that only offenders convicted of non-violent crimes were being considered for release.
Mr Corbett's sister Tracey Corbett-Lynch said the family were "relieved and delighted".
"We have always put our faith in the justice system in North Carolina and, once again, our faith has been justified.
"We are relieved that Tom Martens will remain safely behind bars pending the North Carolina Supreme Court hearing of the Court of Appeal ruling."
Martens, a former FBI and Department of Energy intelligence officer, is in special measures because of the potential threat posed to him by other inmates over his law enforcement background.
He had sought to become the first inmate released from prison in North Carolina under the pandemic who was convicted of a violent crime.
The state has indicated it will release around 500 inmates to ease congestion in prisons.
In a two-page letter submitted to Martens' hearing, Ms Corbett-Lynch wrote: "Not once did Tom Martens show mercy or compassion to Jason as he beat him to death. Yet he is now pleading for mercy for himself."
Martens has served just two- and-a-half years of a 20-25-year term imposed in 2017 for murdering Mr Corbett in 2015.