Plea bargain may see Limerick man’s killers walk free

Molly Corbett Martens and her father Tom have been sentenced for the killing of Limerick man Jason Corbett.

CONVICTED killers Molly Martens Corbett and her father Tom are both one step closer to all out freedom after US prosecutors accepted a manslaughter plea bargain from the pair over their killing of Ms Martens’ husband, Limerick man Jason Corbett.

However, in what family and supporters of Mr Corbett believe to be an attempt to sully his name after his violent death, Molly Martens has claimed in court documents that she believed her husband had killed his first wife, Margaret Fitzpatrick, and was fearful he would do the same to her.

The claim – completely refuted by prosecution lawyers – was made by Douglas Kingsberry, defence counsel for Ms Martens Corbett, at the beginning of a hearing to determine the sentences that she and her father, a retired FBI officer, will receive in relation to Mr Corbett’s 2015 killing.

The two accused in the long-running legal case, who remain on bail, could potentially walk free on the basis of time already served in prison. One thing for certain, the sentencing judge has indicated, is that they will certainly not face as much of a sentence as they would have for murder.

Convictions overturned

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In 2017, Molly (40) and Tom Martens (73),were convicted for the second-degree murder of the Limerick father of two in 2015 and sentenced to between 20 and 25 years in jail.

Their convictions were overturned in 2020 and they were remanded on bail for retrial, which was scheduled to have taken place in North Carolina late last year but was postponed until June.

Last spring, an application by lawyers for the Martens to have the retrial moved from Davidson County to Winston-Salem in Forsyth County – over concerns about potential juror bias in Davidson County linked to social media coverage – was accepted.

The sentencing hearing, which could last up to two weeks, is being attended by Mr Corbett’s two children, Jack (19) and Sarah (17), as well as Mr Corbett’s sister, Tracey Corbett-Lynch, her husband Dave Lynch, and extended family members and supporters.

Jack and Sarah Corbett, whose mother Mags Fitzpatrick died in 2006 from a severe asthma attack, were left orphaned after their father’s killing.

Their aunt, Tracey Corbett Lynch, became their legal guardian after winning a protracted custody battle against the Martens following her brother’s killing.

Both the prosecution and defence in the case agree that the two accused beat Mr Corbett to death in the bedroom of his North Carolina home with a metal baseball bat and a concrete brick.

Cold to the touch

Members of his family in Limerick have always maintained the attack by Molly and Tom Martens was sparked by a row over control of the two children.

The Martens have argued they acted in self defence, although both were found uninjured and without any defensive wounds at the scene by police.

Police said they had to repeatedly tell Ms Martens Corbett to stop rubbing her neck at the death scene.

In the original 2017 trial, prosecutors argued that Mr Corbett was asleep in bed when he was set upon by Molly and Tom Martens.

The prosecution also suggested that an attempt had been made to drug Mr Corbett, and that he was beaten even after he was dead.

The trial also heard that Tom and Molly Martens delayed alerting the emergency services to ensure Mr Corbett could not be saved.

Paramedics who arrived at the scene expressed shock that the Irish packaging industry executive was cold to the touch.

Molly and Tom Martens argued they acted only in self defence after Mr Martens claimed Mr Corbett violently attacked his daughter and refused to release her when holding her by the neck.

Mr Corbett suffered such horrific injuries that a pathologist, Dr Craig Nelson, could not accurately count the number of blows to his head.

Mr Corbett had met Molly Martens when she flew to Ireland to work as a nanny for his two children in 2008, however Mr Corbett was unaware Ms Martens was not a qualified nanny and was suffering from serious mental health problems.

They married in the US in June 2011 and weeks later Ms Martens visited a divorce lawyer to ascertain her rights to Mr Corbett’s two children.

Jack and Sarah attended a special balloon release last Sunday afternoon at the Lexington company managed by their father, in aid of North Carolina Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Sarah Corbett, who organised the event, said her father would buy balloons for her and her brother every November on the anniversary of their mother’s death.

Tracey Corbett Lynch has always maintained that her brother was killed as he was preparing to leave Molly Martens and bring his two children back with him to Ireland.