Interview with Jason Corbett's son 'procured under coercive circumstances'

Lawyers for a US woman who, along with her father is accused of murdering her Irish husband, have moved to block prosecutors from submitting an interview with the dead man’s son as trial evidence, writes Joe Leogue.

Limerick-born Jason Corbett was found dead in the early hours of August 2 in the home he shared with Molly Martens Corbett in Panther Creek, Wallburg, North Carolina.

Jason Corbett and Molly Martens

Ms Martens Corbett, 32, and Thomas Martens, 66, have been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Defence for the pair claim a video statement recorded last May by Mr Corbett’s son Jack in the Limerick home of Mr Corbett’s sister “is hearsay, was obtained under coercive circumstances, and is not sufficiently trustworthy to be admissible”.

In documents filed with the Superior Court of Davidson County in North Carolina , the defence argues the statement “attempts to contradict prior statements” during which Jack and his sister Sarah, 8, described “incidents of verbal and physical abuse by Jason Corbett inflicted upon Molly Corbett”.

The documents reveal how, in the days after their father’s death, the children were interviewed by social services officials, with detectives observing behind a two-way mirrored glass wall.

“Sarah reported that: her dad started fights with her mom for ridiculous reasons; he would hurt her mom; he would scream at her mom every day and sometimes twice a day; he would call her mom names on a daily basis; he would call her mom a lot on the phone; she saw her dad step on her mom’s foot, pull her mom’s hair, roll over her mom’s foot with the car, hit her mom in the face and call her mom names like ‘worthless’,” the documents stated.

“Jack reported that: his dad would physically and verbally abuse his mom; he would punch, hit and push her; he saw her [sic] dad push her [sic] mom down one time because he wanted to look through her phone; his dad would cuss and scream at her; his mom would cry and try to block her ears; his dad’s anger was worse over the past few months, he would scream, get mad and cuss more, he was getting angrier; his mom would try to get him to stop but his dad was strong; his mom would scream for him to stop but sometimes she would just ball up under the covers and block her ears.”

The defence documents claim the interview with Jack on May 27 was procured “under coercive circumstances without any of the safeguards to insure trustworthiness or reliability”.

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