Limerick man’s murder trial venue to be decided in coming days

Molly Martens Corbett outside Davidson County Courthouse in North Carolina.

A COURT in the United States will decide in the coming days on whether to move the venue for the trial of Molly Martens Corbett and her father,Thomas, on charges of murdering Limerick businessman Jason Corbett in 2015.

In 2017, Ms Martens Corbett and her father were found guilty of second-degree murder of her husband at their home in Davidson County, North Carolina. They were sentenced to 20-25 years in prison but their convictions were overturned and a retrial was ordered by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

At a pre-trial hearing on Friday, Judge David Hall heard legal arguments by defence attorneys to move the trial from Davidson County to neighbouring Forsyth County because the Martens wouldn’t receive a fair trial in the area where Jason Corbett was killed.

They said that a number of residents in Davidson County had indicated their allegiance lies with Jason Corbett’s Irish family because of  a social media campaign which was started by individuals in Ireland.

Opposing the defence application, Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin said the defence team had “cherry picked” a small number of residents to paint Davidson County with a broad brush. In a county of more than 170,000 people, the representation of a few who voiced their opinions on social media did not represent the entire community.

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Judge Hall said he would carefully consider the evidence over the next few days and a decision would come sometime late next week.

He pointed out that the burden for changing a venue for a trial is one of the highest burdens of case law and used the phrase “reasonable likelihood” in reference to alleged prejudice that would affect the jury pool.