Family of murdered Limerick man hope retrial will go ahead in May

Jason Corbett
The late Jason Corbett

THE family of Limerick man Jason Corbett are hopeful that the retrial of Molly and Tom Martens for the murder of the father-of-two will go ahead in May.

US lawyer Garry Frank, leading the prosecution, said he is confident the father and daughter will be convicted a second time of Mr Corbett’s murder, in what will likely be the North Carolina’s longest-running non-capital murder trial.

Jason Corbett (39), originally from Janesboro, was bludgeoned to death in the bedroom of his home outside Winston-Salem by his second wife Molly Martens (38) and her father, retired FBI agent Tom Martens (71) in August 2015.

Mr Corbett was killed as his two young children, Jack and Sarah, were asleep in the property.

The original trial in 2017, which lasted five weeks at Davidson County Superior Court, resulted in the jury returning unanimous guilty verdicts on both defendants who were each sentenced to between 20 and 25 years in prison.

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However, the Martens were released from jail and granted bail on a $200,000 bond last April after they were granted a retrial. Lawyers for the Martens argued that the trial judge had excluded critical evidence from the jury, that would have supported the claim that they had acted in self-defence when they were attacked by Mr Corbett.

The trial heard that Mr Corbett was asleep when he was attacked by Mr Martens using a metal baseball bat, and by Ms Martens using a concrete paving slab, and that neither accused was injured when police and paramedics arrived at the scene.

The defendants secured the retrial after they refused a plea bargain to a lesser charge which would have meant they would have spent considerably less time, perhaps a further 12 months, in jail.

The retrial is to hear significant evidence from Mr Corbett’s two children which was not allowed at the original trial.

Mr Corbett’s first wife Margaret ‘Mags’ Fitzpatrick suffered a fatal asthma episode in 2006 leaving him to raise their two children. Molly Martens married Mr Corbett in 2011 after Ms Martens became nanny to his two children.

Mr Corbett’s family have maintained Ms Martens orchestrated her husband’s death after he refused to make her their legal guardian in the event of his death, and that he was making plans to leave her and return to Limerick with his children.

The original trial judge’s refusal to allow into evidence statements taken from the children by social services officials in August 2015 was a key element in overturning the convictions.