The lawyer for Tom Martens said he looks forward to evidence from Jason Corbett’s two children being introduced in any retrial.
he father (71) and his daughter Molly (37) walked free from prison last night after they were granted bail by a US court in a bond set at €170,000 ($200,000) over the second degree murder of Irish father of two Jason Corbett (39) on August 2 2015.
Tom Martens lawyer, David Freedman, confirmed that no future court date has been set and he indicated the duo may be at home for some time before any retrial proceedings commence because of the impact of Covid-19 on the trials system in North Carolina.
He also welcomed the prospect of evidence from Mr Corbett’s children, Jack (16) and Sarah (14), forming part of any proposed new trial.
“I would (welcome it) – I believe they gave very compelling statements to the child advocacy centre under very thorough investigation and I look forward to the jury being able to see what the children actually had to say,” he told RTE’s ‘Morning Ireland.’
“The (NC) Supreme Court said they (the statements) are admissible. They would be heard. That (whether the children offer direct evidence) is up to the State to decide.”
“Right now we are back at the starting point right now – there is no conviction and they are presumed to be innocent. We are back at the starting point.”
Mr Freedman said there were very emotional scenes outside Davidson County jail as the father and daughter were released from custody.
“She (Molly) was ecstatic when she got out – Tom was very happy to be released too. They had been in custody for 44 months,” he said.
“It is tough – they have both made the best of it.”
Mr Freedman refused to discuss the reported plea deal offered to his clients.
“I am in no position to discuss anything except what went on in court today with the bond (hearing).”
“There is no new court date yet – Covid-19 has backed up all of the court system here tremendously. So I am no quite sure when we will have any further proceedings.”
“At some point (a retrial date will be set) – I believe that to be the case. I don’t know yet. I don’t think so (it will be soon) – not with all the other cases that are out there. They could be (at home for some time to come).”
Mr Freedman responded to a statement issued by Jason’s sister. Tracey Corbett-Lynch, welcoming the retrial.
“I disagree with a great deal of what the Corbett family has said. I don’t really care to get into it – all I can say is that two different appellant courts that heard the case for Tom and Molly decided they did not receive a fair trial and that is what we are looking forward to receiving this time.”
The father and daughter will now face a full retrial for the second degree murder of the Limerick widower – a move his family warmly welcomed after a controversial plea bargain deal apparently collapsed.
Ms Martens was greeted by her mother Sharon on release from jail in Davidson County in North Carolina and did not comment to waiting reporters.
Mr Martens, who left jail a few minutes later, simply said: “I am just glad to be back with my family. I’m going home.”
He directed all further comments to his lawyers.
Large numbers of the Martens family were in court as the father and daughter secured bail.
Both had been held until now without bond in a North Carolina jail but their defence lawyers brought a bail application before a Davidson County judge after they won a landmark NC Supreme Court judgement last month which quashed their conviction for the brutal murder of Irish father of two in August 2015.
Mr Martens, a former FBI agent, and his daughter, a former nanny, served almost four years behind bars on a 20-25 year prison sentence for second degree murder.
One of the conditions of their being granted bail and released on bond is that they have no contact, direct or indirect, with the family of Mr Corbett and his two children, Jack (16) and Sarah (14).
A second condition is that both must surrender their passports and undertake not to apply for new passports.
However, the father and daughter will now face full retrial on second degree murder charges as it appeared a plea bargain deal was not agreed.
Mr Corbett’s sister, Tracey Corbett-Lynch, said it was a huge relief for the family that a retrial will be staged.
“We welcome today’s decision by Garry Frank, the District Attorney for Davidson County, to seek a retrial of Tom and Molly Martens for the murder of Jason Corbett, a loving, kind, father of two who was beaten to death in his own home,” she said.
“We look forward to a date being set for a retrial at the earliest opportunity.”
“Jason’s death was caused by unimaginable, horrific and heinous violence. The depravity of others on that night changed so many lives forever.”
“For almost six years now, Jason’s orphaned children have had to listen to the Martens spewing self-serving lies on social media about their father.”
“When the children were aged ten and eight, they were brought on the afternoon of the funeral service for their father to interviews with a social worker. They were coached and intimidated by Molly Martens into making false statements about their father in those interviews.”
“Once they were safely home in Ireland and out of the evil clutches of Molly Martens, the children recanted those statements.”
“The children are prepared to give evidence in a retrial and spent two days being interviewed by detectives in North Carolina last week.”
“We are grateful to the people of North Carolina who have been a tremendous support to our family since Jason’s killing in 2015 and shared our public concerns about the prospect of the Martens being offered a plea deal to manslaughter instead of facing a retrial.”
“Today, Jason’s children have been given the chance to give evidence in a retrial, and they look forward to telling a jury the truth about the abuse they and Jason suffered at the hands of Molly Martens.”
“The District Attorney’s determination to seek a retrial in this case ensures that our six-year fight for justice for Jason continues. The District Attorney has shown today that Jason’s life is of equal importance to all others, even those of the well-connected and wealthy defendants who admitted killing him.”
“A lifetime won’t erase the images of the torture Jason endured. A lifetime will not erase the physical and emotional scars left on Jason’s children, Jack and Sarah. We face a lifetime of loss, but our only solace comes in knowing that justice will be served, and a jury will get to hear the truth of Jason’s heart and the lies of his heartless killers.”
The bond hearing attracted enormous media attention with a large contingent of US and Irish TV crews, journalists and photographers present.
A number of people also attended to show their support for the Corbett family including former work colleagues of Jason Corbett.
Had the father and daughter secured a plea bargain deal to voluntary manslaughter, they would have faced serving just two more years in prison.
Their high profile murder trial was staged over July and August 2017 in Davidson County Superior Court – located right beside the jail in Lexington, North Carolina where they were yesterday in custody.
Both would have served four years behind bars next August.
Any retrial is not expected before late 2022 with a major backlog of murder trials in North Carolina because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Martens family has already said that, when released, both would return to their homes in Knoxville, Tennessee “without fanfare.”
The Corbett family launched a petition on www.change.org called ‘Retrial for Molly and Tom Martens’ which aimed to garner public support for blocking the plea deal.
Davidson County District Attorney’s office has also been flooded with objections to any plea bargain offer.
Mr Frank said he was now in “pre-trial mode” and cannot comment on matters in relation to the case.
In relation to the petition, he warned that a District Attorney should be more worried about seeking justice than courting public opinion.
Mrs Corbett Lynch, her husband David Lynch, and Mr Corbett’s two children, Jack (16) and Sarah (14), all travelled to North Carolina to meet with Davidson County prosecutors and police last week to support the re-trial process – and were shocked to learn of the plea bargain offer.
Both Tom and Molly Martens insisted they acted in entirely self defence after claiming Mr Corbett had attacked Ms Martens on August 2 2015 at their luxury Winston-Salem home.
However, they were found to be totally uninjured at the scene by police.
In contrast, the Irish father of two’s skull had been completely shattered and a pathologist could not precisely count the number of blows to his head.
Mr Corbett had been drugged, attacked while asleep in bed and then beaten even after he was dead.
The 2017 murder trial also heard the duo then stalled ringing emergency services just to ensure he was dead.
A life insurance policy had also been changed to ensure Ms Martens was the sole beneficiary to the exclusion of Mr Corbett’s two children.
Mr Corbett’s family insisted the fatal attack was over custody of his two children born to his first wife, Margaret or ‘Mags’, who died from an asthma attack in November 2006.
The Limerick father met Ms Martens when she travelled to Ireland to work as a nanny for his two children in March 2008.
They married in June 2011 but he steadfastly refused to sign adoption papers giving her equal rights to his children amid concerns over her mental health problems and increasingly erratic behaviour.
He was killed as he planned to bring his children back to Limerick.
Source: Irish News