THE family of murdered Limerick man Jason Corbett will travel to the US later this month in an effort to have the retrial of his killers, Tom and Molly Martens, held before Christmas.
The Corbett family say that ongoing legal delays have been “an absolute nightmare” for Mr Corbett’s two orphaned children, Jack (17) and Sarah (15).
Judge David Hall will hold a pre-trial hearing with prosecutors and defence attorneys in Davidson County, North Carolina on September 21, four months after a retrial date was due to be confirmed.
Tracey Corbett-Lynch – who has led the family’s campaign for justice for her 29 year-old brother – declined to make comment to reporters on the matter for legal reasons, as she is expected to be a witness at the retrial.
Judge Hall, who will hear the retrial of the Martens, has already warned both prosecution and defence teams that no comment can be made to the media in relation to the case without his approval.
However, a family spokesperson confirmed that members of the Janesboro businessman’s family will travel to North Carolina for the pre-trial hearing – and that they will be urging prosecutors to hold the retrial in October or November in order to conclude legal proceedings before Christmas.
“Our priority is to see justice done for Jason and to protect his two children. This legal process has been hanging over their heads for seven years since their father was murdered and they were made orphans,” the spokesperson told the Irish Independent.
“It is simply not acceptable for a retrial to be staged in 2023 by which time Jason’s killers will be walking free from their prison sentences for two years.”
“Justice delayed is justice denied. That is the message we will be bringing to North Carolina. We want to once again stress that we have full faith in North Carolina prosecutors and the US justice system, and we will not rest until justice is done for Jason.”
The family are also concerned that Jack Corbett and Sarah Corbett are facing exams and that any ongoing trial delays will be unfair to the two children who, unlike in the original 2017 trial, will now give evidence.
Mr Corbett’s two children came face to face at the March hearing with their stepmother and step-grandfather for the first time since their father was beaten to death in the bedroom of his North Carolina home in August 2015.
Jason Corbett, a packaging industry executive, was beaten to death in his bedroom with a concrete brick and a metal baseball bat.
The 2017 trial heard that an attempt had been made to drug him, and he was beaten even after he was dead. Tom and Molly Martens then delayed calling emergency services to ensure he was dead when they arrived.
Mr Corbett, who was a widower, had refused to sign adoption papers to allow Molly Martens, who was his second wife, equal rights to his two children who now live in Limerick with their aunt Tracey Corbett-Lynch.
His family are adamant he was killed because he was about to bring his two children back to Ireland amid increasing concerns over Ms Martens mental health and increasingly bizarre behaviour.
Tom Martens, a former FBI agent, and his daughter were convicted in August 2017 after a five-week trial of the second-degree murder of Jason Corbett and sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison.
However, they subsequently won a retrial after a challenge to the North Carolina Court of Appeal and then North Carolina Supreme Court.
Both served three-and-a-half years in prison before being freed early last year.
In April 2021, the Martens turned down an offer from prosecutors of a plea bargain admitting manslaughter or unlawful killing, which would have likely have seen them serve 22 months in prison, as they then had served almost four years.
The father and daughter continue to insist they acted in self-defence and that Mr Corbett had attacked his Molly Martens.
While both Tom and Molly Martens were uninjured, Mr Corbett’s skull had been so badly shattered that a pathologist could not accurately count the number of blows.
The Limerick businessman’s life insurance policy had been changed to ensure Ms Martens was the only beneficiary to the exclusion of his two children.
Mr Corbett’s remains were flown home to Limerick in 2015 and laid to rest beside first wife and mother to Jack and Sarah, Mags, who died of an asthma attack in 2006.