Lawyers blame ‘the Irish’ for public bias in Tom and Molly Martens trial
Lawyers alleged Tom and Molly Martens have now become hate figures because of a social media campaign started by ‘the Irish’
The US retrial of Tom and Molly Martens for the murder of Irish widower Jason Corbett is now expected to last for two months with jury selection alone likely to take two weeks.
US legal experts warned that the retrial of the father and daughter for the second-degree murder of the Limerick father of two could prove one of the longest-running, non-capital murder trials in recent North Carolina history.
The revelation came as a North Carolina judge outlined a series of special measures which could be adopted to ensure a fair trial given the publicity the case has attracted both in the US and Ireland since 2015.
Mr Corbett, a 39-year-old packaging industry executive, was beaten to death on August 2, 2015 in the bedroom of his North Carolina home with a metal baseball bat and a concrete brick while his two young children, Jack and Sarah, slept upstairs.
His American-born second wife, Molly, and his father-in-law, Tom, a retired FBI agent and US department of energy intelligence operative, admitted killing him but insisted they acted in self-defence.
However, Tom (72) and Molly (38) Martens were found uninjured at the scene by police while Mr Corbett’s skull was so badly shattered a pathologist said he could not count the number of blows inflicted by the baseball bat and concrete slab.
Both were convicted of Mr Corbett’s second-degree murder after a high-profile trial in 2017 and sentenced to 20-25 years in prison.
They were released from prison after serving three and a half years after they won their appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2021.
A full retrial is scheduled to proceed on June 26.
Judge David Hall will rule on Friday on motions by the Martens’ lawyers to have the hearing moved out of Davidson County and switched to a different part of North Carolina.
Defence lawyers want the retrial switched to Forsyth County, where the major city of Winston-Salem is located, after claiming any jury panel in Davidson County – a largely blue-collar area – would be “infected” given the enormous publicity the killing has attracted.
The 2017 trial which convicted the Martens of second-degree murder was held in Lexington, Davidson County.
Defence lawyers alleged Tom and Molly Martens have now become hate figures because of a social media campaign started by “the Irish”.
They also claimed the atmosphere surrounding the case in Davidson County was toxic with the Martens unlikely to receive a fair trial and an impartial jury unless the hearing was transferred elsewhere.
Judge Hall said he was “troubled” by the enormous scale of publicity surrounding the case and warned that any decision on a trial transfer will be “a very close matter”.
The retrial is set for June 26 while final pretrial motions will be dealt with on June 12.
All legal submissions in the case must be resolved by the end of next month.
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