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Jason Corbett killing Fears of delay to Tom and Molly Martens' retrial as key lawyer dies of Covid-19

Molly (37) is currently on an extended US holiday with her brother, Connor, and has visited Chicago and New York

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Molly Martens and her father Tom were found guilty in 2017 of the second-degree murder of Irish father-of-two Jason Corbett

Molly Martens and her father Tom were found guilty in 2017 of the second-degree murder of Irish father-of-two Jason Corbett

Molly Martens and her father Tom were found guilty in 2017 of the second-degree murder of Irish father-of-two Jason Corbett

Fears are mounting that the US retrial of Molly and Tom Martens, the convicted killers of Irish businessman Jason Corbett, could be stalled because of the death from Covid-19 of one of the key defence solicitors.

David Freedman (64), the chief defence solicitor for Tom Martens (71), died in North Carolina from complications arising from Covid-19.

Mr Freedman, who spearheaded the retired FBI agent's successful challenge to his second-degree murder conviction to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and then the US state's Supreme Court, had been vaccinated.

However, he contracted Covid-19 and developed severe complications from the virus. He died in Wake Forest Baptist Hospital.

The Limerick-based family of Mr Corbett, a 39-year-old father-of-two and packaging industry executive who was killed in August 2015, have not been notified of any proposed retrial date in North Carolina.

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Molly Martens and Jason Corbett

Molly Martens and Jason Corbett

Molly Martens and Jason Corbett

 

However, fears are mounting that the death of Mr Freedman could delay the entire retrial process.

Tom Martens will now require a new lead solicitor and while the same law firm is involved, Mr Freedman's replacement is expected to require significant time to prepare his defence brief.

The retrial is now being considered by Davidson County district attorney Garry Frank and is expected to take between five to seven weeks.

It had been hoped that the retrial would be staged by mid to late 2022.

The father and daughter were both convicted of Mr Corbett's second-degree murder after a joint trial in July/August 2017 before winning appeals before the Court of Appeal and then Supreme Court. Prosecutors have insisted a single trial should again be mounted.

Since their release after spending more than three-and-a-half years behind bars, Tom Martens has lived at his home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Molly (37) is currently on an extended US holiday with her brother, Connor, and has visited Chicago and New York.

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Molly and Tom Martens

Molly and Tom Martens

Molly and Tom Martens

 

Mr Frank said he believes any retrial will again be held in Davidson County - where Mr Corbett worked - despite speculation the defence legal teams would seek a transfer to another part of the US state.

Molly Martens, who travelled to Ireland to work as a nanny for the Limerick widower's two children, and her father Tom were sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison after being convicted by unanimous vote of a Davidson County Superior Court jury in August 2017 of murder.

Mr Corbett was found beaten to death in the bedroom of his Winston-Salem home on August 2, 2015.

He had been attacked with a concrete paving brick and a metal baseball bat - suffering horrific head and facial injuries.

Mr Frank has taken time to evaluate the North Carolina Supreme Court judgment, key evidential issues arising and the logistics of any proposed retrial.

The Corbett family have already backed prosecutors and vowed they will do everything to support the process to deliver a second murder conviction for the pair. Mr Frank said he is confident a second conviction can be secured in the event of a retrial.

Tom and Molly Martens insisted they acted in self- defence, despite police finding both at the scene without a bruise, scratch or cut.

In contrast, a pathologist could not accurately count the number of blows which had shattered Mr Corbett's skull.

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