NewsCrime World

We can't get fair murder trial, say wife and father-in-law of Jason Corbett

Molly and Tom Martens
Molly and Tom Martens

The American wife and the father-in-law of Limerick man Jason Corbett have sought to move their murder trial to a different location as they claim they cannot get a fair trial where the killing happened.

Molly Martens Corbett (35) and her father, former FBI agent Thomas Michael Martens (67), are accused of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter at the Corbett home in North Carolina on August 2, 2015.

Thomas Martens has admitted hitting Jason with a baseball bat at the house, but has claimed the Limerick man was choking his daughter at the time during an argument.

Yesterday, the framework to decide what evidence can be used in the trial, due to take place next month in Davidson County, North Carolina, was being finalised in pre-trial submissions submitted by the prosecution and defence.

Ms Martens's lawyer, Walter Holton, argued that adverse publicity meant the trial should not be heard in Davidson County.

He claimed false information had been released to the media in the early stages and this information had been spread "locally, nationally and internationally".

He added this information spread "like wildfire with gasoline" across social media.

He also claimed information released from official documents which said Jason Corbett was planning on returning home to Ireland for good with his two children, and that Ms Marten would not be part of that plan, were not true.

He also denied that Jason Corbett was planning on transferring assets to Ireland ahead of the trip.

Prosecution lawyer Alan Martin argued that witnesses will be witnesses no matter where they testify and a fair trial is possible in Davidson County.

The killing of Jason Corbett sent shock waves through communities on both sides of the Atlantic.

advertisement

Advertisement 00:15

Jason's first wife Margaret died during an asthma attack in 2006. The couple had two children together - Jack and Sarah. Mr Corbett met Ms Martens in 2008 when the American moved to Ireland to work as an au pair for the children.

He and the children later moved to the US and the couple married in 2011, settling in the exclusive Meadowlands estate.

Mr Martens has lodged a motion claiming the father of Mr Corbett's first wife suspected he [Jason] was involved in her death.

In the motion he claims he was "approached by Michael Fitzpatrick (since deceased), the father of Jason Corbett's late first wife Margaret Corbett" at his daughter and Mr Crobett's wedding in 2011.

"On that occasion, Mr Fitzpatrick told Mr Martens that he believed that Jason Corbett had caused the death of his daughter Margaret," it said.

Mr Martens's pre-trial motion also details how he wishes to claim "self-defence and the defence of others" in the murder trial.

The motion reads: "Specifically, during the alleged altercation that resulted in the death of Jason Corbett, Mr Martens witnessed Jason Corbett, a man far larger and more physically powerful than he or his daughter, choking his daughter and threatening to kill her, and thereafter acted in defence of his daughter and, eventually, in his own defence."

It adds Mr Martens was allegedly aware of Mr Corbett's size during the assault, and that "Mr Fitzpatrick had represented to him that he believed his daughter's death to have come at the hands of Jason Corbett".

After Mr Crobett's killing, a custody battle ensued over the two children, with Ms Martens saying she wanted to raise them in the US, and Mr Corbett's family seeking to bring them back to Ireland.

Jack was 10 and Sarah was eight when their father was killed. Mr Corbett's sister Tracey, and her husband David, who also attended yesterday's sitting, were granted custody of the children, and they now live in Ireland.