The family of Irish businessman Jason Corbett, 39, who was beaten to death by his American wife and father-in-law Molly, 38, and Tom, 72, Martens, has been shaken, a North Carolina judge said at a special hearing confirmed yesterday that his killers will face no retrial for another 10 months.
r Corbett’s daughter Sarah, 16, fought back tears as she sat just feet from her stepmother and step-grandfather, who were released from North Carolina prisons early last year after successfully appealing their second-degree murder convictions from 2017 had inserted.
Sarah was flanked at the hearing by Tracey Corbett-Lynch, her late father’s sister, and Tracey’s husband Dave, who traveled from their home in Limerick to North Carolina especially for the hearing.
Molly Martens stared straight ahead as Judge David Hall confirmed the proposed 2023 trial date.
Ms Martens – who still refers to herself as “Molly Corbett” – wore a plain gray jacket and black skirt to the hearing in Lexington, Davidson County.
Her father, Tom, a retired FBI agent, appeared at the hearing in a dark suit and formal blue shirt.
No one spoke during the Davidson County Court Five hearing.
Mr Corbett’s Irish family looked distraught as Judge Hall said it was impossible to start the retrial sooner – as Mr Corbett’s killers will now have almost two and a half years free before their retrial is staged.
Judge Hall said the retrial would take place on June 26 next year, citing “the Covid bottleneck” that has impacted court services.
He said that despite everyone’s best efforts, it has proved impossible to hold the retrial earlier.
“Everyone involved made efforts to get the process started earlier, but there were realities that could not be overcome,” he said.
Molly and Tom Martens were released from custody after their second-degree murder convictions were overturned first by the North Carolina Court of Appeals and then by the North Carolina Superior Court in early 2021.
Both had served just over three and a half years of their 20- to 25-year sentences.
The couple successfully appealed after insisting throughout their 2017 trial that they had acted solely in self-defense.
Mr Corbett’s family had expressed concerns that a long delay in administering the retrial could jeopardize the important trial years of Mr Corbett’s two children, Jack, 18, and Sarah, 16, in Ireland.
Both children – orphaned by the brutal murder of their father in August 2015 – have been celebrating birthdays in the past 10 days.
Jack is now scheduled to take his Leaving Cert while Sarah awaits her Junior Cert results.
Yesterday’s hearing came six months after a tentative retrial last March – and four months after a trial date was originally supposed to have been confirmed last May.
A retrial is expected to take up to seven weeks.
Judge Hall said another administrative hearing will be held next November 16 at a location to be determined.
A status meeting for the prosecution and defense will then take place in Lexington on January 9th.
The judge gave both the prosecution and the defense a deadline of March 17 to deal with all important trial matters.
He said a final pre-trial hearing will be held on June 12 to consider any pending trial motions.
The full retrial is then expected to begin, with jury selection beginning on June 26.
Under North Carolina law, criminal convictions require a unanimous jury verdict.
Three members of the Corbett family – Tracey and Mr Corbett’s two siblings, Marilyn and Wayne – wrote formally to Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank last month to request an expedited retrial.
Ms Corbett-Lynch has led the campaign for justice for her brother and declined to comment on the matter on legal grounds.
Like Jack and Sarah, she is now expected to testify at the retrial.
Family members believe the continued delays in the trial were deeply unfair to the two children, who will now testify for the prosecution, unlike at the original 2017 trial.
Mr Corbett’s two children faced their stepmother and step-grandfather at the hearing in March for the first time since their father was beaten to death in the bedroom of his North Carolina home in August 2015.
Her father, a packaging executive, was beaten to death in his bedroom with a concrete block and a metal baseball bat.
The 2017 trial heard there had been an attempt to drug Mr Corbett, he was beaten even after he was dead and both Tom and Molly Martens then delayed calling emergency services to ensure he was there on their arrival was dead.
Forsyth County Judge Hall, who was specifically appointed to hear the retrial, yesterday warned both prosecutors and the defense that no comment on the case should be made to the media without his consent.
“I will not allow anything that could jeopardize the integrity of this process,” he warned.
“Please take this very seriously…the order will be enforced blindly,” he said.
He added that making sure justice is done is his priority.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/family-of-jason-corbett-fight-back-tears-as-they-face-10-month-wait-for-his-killers-retrial-42008110.html Jason Corbett’s family fights back tears as they wait 10 months for his killers to be retried