Tom and Molly Martens retrial for murder of Jason Corbett could go ahead later this year
They received 20 to 25-year prison sentences but subsequently won a retrial after a challenge to the North Carolina Court of Appeal and then North Carolina Supreme Court
The re-trial of Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens, who are charged with murdering Irishman Jason Corbett nearly seven years ago, could go ahead later this year, the district attorney for Davidson County has said.
Corbett (38) and Martens (72) are charged with second-degree murder in Jason Corbett's death on August 2, 2015.
Mr Martens, a former FBI agent, and his daughter, Molly, who was Jason Corbett's second wife, were unanimously convicted of Mr Corbett's second-degree murder after a five-week trial in August 2017.
They received 20 to 25-year prison sentences but subsequently won a retrial after a challenge to the North Carolina Court of Appeal and then North Carolina Supreme Court.
Both served three and a half years in prison before being freed.
The case was then sent back to Davidson Superior Court for a retrial, where district attorney for Davidson County, Garry Frank, said he is hopeful that a hearing could be scheduled for some time in August.
"I'm still hopeful," Frank said, when asked if a trial could happen later this year, adding that he had no idea how long a retrial could take.
The timing depends on the schedule of the assigned judge, David Hall, who is a resident superior court judge in Forsyth County.
Superior court judges are assigned to different counties for periods of six months. A special session of court might have to be scheduled for Hall to hold a hearing.
The last hearing in the case that was held on March 11 in Davidson Superior Court lasted 20 minutes.
Referring to the "tremendous amount of media coverage" the case had garnered, Judge Hall ordered all attorneys in the case not to make any "extra-judicial" statements.
This means that they cannot make any public comments about the allegations in the case outside the courtroom while staff members and expert witnesses are also prohibited from making any public comments.
Jason Corbett, 39, was found beaten to death in the early morning hours of August 2, 2015, in the Davidson County home he shared with Molly Corbett, and his two children, Jack and Sarah, from his first marriage.
Prosecutors said Molly Corbett and Martens beat Jason to death with a baseball bat and a paving stone. They said the two crushed Jason's skull and hit him at least 12 times in the head.
At the first trial, Martens testified that he beat Jason Corbett repeatedly in an attempt to save the life of his daughter and himself after he said he saw Jason choking Molly Corbett. Molly Corbett and Martens claimed self-defense at trial.
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Tracey Corbett Lynch, Jason's sister, has expressed frustration at the delays. In a tweet on July 6, she noted that it has been nearly seven years since her brother died, and it's been 16 months since they were released from jail on bond.
Corbett Lynch, who is raising Jason's two children, Sarah and Jack, wrote: “Seven years ago Jason was beaten to death by Molly & Tom Martens with a paving brick & baseball bat while drugged with medication prescribed to Molly.
“[For the past] 16 months they are walking free. No retrial date, no hearing date to set a retrial date,' she wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
At the last trial, the statements made by Jack and Sarah to social workers became a key issue.
Defense attorneys claim the statements they made to social workers at the Union County Department of Social Services and at Dragonfly House Children's Advocacy Center in Mocksville indicate that Jason Corbett physically and emotionally abused Molly Corbett, .
The attorneys wanted to use those statements to bolster their claims of self-defense, however, trial judge, David Lee, excluded the statements.
The N.C. Court of Appeals concluded that Lee's decision was a prejudicial error that denied Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens the chance to make an effective self-defense claim.
Jack and Sarah, who are in the custody of Tracy Corbett Lynch in Ireland, did not testify at the first trial. But they appeared at the hearing in March and are likely to testify at the re-trial.
Jason Corbett's family has been outspoken about wanting Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens retried.
Tracey Corbett Lynch released a book, ‘My Brother Jason’, in which she alleges that Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens committed premeditated cold-blooded murder of her brother.
She believes that Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens should be facing first-degree murder.
She is set to release later this year a second book called ‘Loss and What It Taught Me About Living’, that deals with the death of her brother.
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