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separate trials denied Tom and Molly Martens to face joint retrial for murder of Jason Corbett

Retrial is expected to take place next year

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Molly Martens killed Limerick man Jason Corbett

Molly Martens killed Limerick man Jason Corbett

Molly Martens killed Limerick man Jason Corbett

Tom and Molly Martens will face a joint retrial for the murder of Irish businessman Jason Corbett after US officials ruled out any question of separate trials being staged next year.

US prosecutors also stressed that any application to have their proposed retrial transferred to a different part of North Carolina next year was certain to fail.

The father and daughter were released from prison in North Carolina in April after winning a challenge to their conviction for the second-degree murder of Limerick businessman and father-of-two Jason Corbett (39).

A retrial was ordered by a 4-3 ruling of judges in the North Carolina Supreme Court.

That retrial is now being considered by Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank, although no date has been set for the North Carolina ­hearing, which is expected to take between five and seven weeks.

It is expected the retrial will be staged by mid- to late 2022.

One North Carolina source revealed prosecutors had rejected suggestions that separate trials be staged for Mr Martens (71) and his daughter (37).

Both were convicted after a joint trial in July and August of 2017 before winning appeals before the North Carolina Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court.

Prosecutors have insisted a single trial should again be mounted.

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Molly Martens hugs her mother, Sharon, as she walks out of the Davidson County Courthouse in North Carolina last April.

Molly Martens hugs her mother, Sharon, as she walks out of the Davidson County Courthouse in North Carolina last April.

Molly Martens hugs her mother, Sharon, as she walks out of the Davidson County Courthouse in North Carolina last April.

 

Since their release after spending more than three and a half years in prison, Mr Martens has lived at his Knoxville home in Tennessee.

Ms Martens is currently on an extended US holiday with her brother in which she has visited Chicago and New York.

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

Mr Martens, a retired FBI agent, and Ms Martens, who travelled to Ireland to work as a nanny for the Limerick widower, were sentenced to 20-25 years in prison after being convicted by unanimous vote of a Davidson County Superior Court jury in August 2017 of Mr Corbett’s murder.

The packaging industry executive 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 injuries.

Mr Frank said any transfer of the murder retrial out of Davidson County was extremely unlikely.

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Jason Corbett

Jason Corbett

Jason Corbett

 

“We are already in the process of evaluating how to go forward. I would doubt that [any retrial transfer]. The defence may try to file a motion relative to the publicity but that is a pretty [difficult] burden to overcome relative to transfer here in our jurisdiction,” Mr Frank said.

“In most jurisdictions it would probably be a situation where we would have to start picking a jury and then one after one find that we couldn’t get a fair jury because of ­publicity.

“But I would doubt that anything would be ruled in that regard pre-trial.

“You have to basically show that you cannot pick a fair jury. That is usually a very difficult hurdle to pass.”

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 North Carolina prosecutors and vowed they would do everything to support delivering a second-murder conviction for the two killers of Jason Corbett.

The 2017 trial was told Mr Corbett was beaten to death as he slept.

An attempt had been made to drug him, he was attacked after he was dead and it was alleged the duo delayed calling emergency services to ensure Mr Corbett was dead when paramedics arrived.

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