THE CASE: Molly Martens and her father, Thomas Martens, 67, a former FBI agent, are on trial for second-degree murder in Jason Corbett's death in the early morning hours of Aug 2, 2015. They deny the charge, and have claimed self-defense and the defense of others, saying that Thomas Martens struck Jason Corbett with a baseball bat to keep Jason from choking Molly.
Prosecutors allege Molly and Thomas Martens intentionally beat Jason to death with a baseball bat, a 28-inch Louisville Slugger, and a concrete paving brick.
Update 9.35pm: Irish businessman Jason Corbett hit his head on a wall of his bedroom in two different places, one lower than the other, as he was being struck by a blunt object, a blood spatter expert testified at his murder trial this afternoon.
And a vacuum cleaner that was in the corner by the west wall of the master bedroom, where Jason Corbett was found, appears to have been moved, the expert also testified.
Stuart James, an expert in blood spatter analysis and who owns a company called James and Associates - Forensic Consultants Inc., examined 700 crime scene photos, Jason Corbett's autopsy report, autopsy pictures, and other evidence to evaluate blood found on the walls, floor, bedcovers and other places in the master bedroom where Jason Corbett was found.
James said he saw a number of what he called impact blood spatters, which are created by violent force. On the south wall of the bedroom, he saw blood spatter at different sections, along with what appears to be small dents in the wall, suggesting that Jason Corbett hit his head as he was falling down. The blood spatter pattern is in a descending order until it gets to about three to four inches from the ground, James said.
Another pattern of blood seems to indicate transfer blood, showing that Jason Corbett was moving to the hallway.
By the west wall is a vacuum cleaner in the upright position. But James said the pattern of blood spatter suggests that the vacuum cleaner was sitting on its side during the incident.
The flow pattern goes from side to side, not up and down.
"It tells me that the vacuum cleaner was on its side when the blood was deposited and it was there long enough for it to dry," James said. "It shows an alteration to the scene prior to the photos being taken."
James also came down to Davidson County to take photos with a special camera of the plaid boxer shorts Thomas Martens was wearing and the pajamas that Molly Martens was wearing.
In testimony In the absence of the jury, James said he saw impact blood spatter on certain spots of Thomas Martens' shorts that would indicate that he was just above Jason Corbett when Jason was struck. Jones Byrd, attorney for Thomas Martens, argued that some of that evidence should not come in because some of those stains or spatter had not been tested to confirm it was blood. James said that it fit the size, shape and pattern consistent with other blood spatter found on the shorts that had been tested.
Jason Corbett’s father-in-law Thomas Martens told a co-worker that he hated Jason two months before the Irish businessman was found bludgeoned to death, according to testimony at the murder trial today.
Martens, 67, a former FBI agent, and his daughter, Molly, 33, Jason Corbett's wife, are on trial for second-degree murder in Davidson Superior Court. They deny the charge, and have claimed self-defense and the defense of others.
They say Thomas Martens struck Jason Corbett with a baseball bat because Jason was choking Molly and threatening to kill her. Prosecutors allege that Molly and Thomas Martens hit Jason multiple times in the head with the baseball bat, a 28-inch Louisville Slugger, and a concrete paving brick.
Joanne Lowry testified that she worked with Thomas Martens at Oak Ridge Laboratory in the Counterintelligence Office for at least eight years. Lowry, who has since retired, had one of the highest security clearances from the U.S. Department of Energy to handle sensitive foreign traffic. The clearance meant she had access to classified information.
She worked with Thomas Martens daily. Lowry pointed him out to the jury, saying he was the man with the "nice, beautiful gray hair."
One Monday, about two months before Jason was killed, she sat beside Martens and asked him how his weekend wsa.
"Oh, the kids came home and we're always glad to see them come home but we're glad to see them leave," Lowry said Martens told her.
Then he talked about Jason. "That son-in-law...I hate him," she said he told her.
She also testified that Martens expressed his dislike of Jason in 2011 as Jason was preparing to marry Molly.
"It was just a discussion of his pre-wedding celebration," she said. "Jason his friends were coming to their home, the Martens' home. He indicated his dislike for Jason and his rowdy friends."
Lowry said Martens didn't explain his statement in 2015 that he hated Jason or why he disliked Jason and his friends in 2011.
Under cross-examination by David Freedman, Thomas Martens' attorney, Lowry said she could not remember exactly when in 2015 that Mr Martens made the statement about Jason Corbett.
She also said under cross-examination that Mr Martens had been in a good mood but that his attitude had changed when he mentioned Jason Corbett. Freedman challenged Lowry, saying that in previous sworn testimony, she had not mentioned that Martens' attitude had changed.
Lowry's testimony was hotly-contested outside the presence of the jury. Freedman argued that her testimony was irrelevant, hearsay and prejudicial.
Freedman and Walter Holton, attorney for Molly Martens, said the testimony also would violate Molly Martens’ constitutional rights. Lowry's testimony would, by inference, implicate Molly Martens, but because her testimony deals only with Thomas Martens, she would not have much opportunity to confront Lowry through cross-examination.
Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown said that Lowry's testimony was being offered to help prove malice, one of the elements of second-degree murder.
Outside the presence of the jury, Lowry also testified that Thomas Martens made his dislike for Jason well-known among the counterintelligence unit, which comprised of about 13 people. She could not provide any specific statements that Martens made to other people who worked in the unit; only the two instances in 2011 and 2015 to her.
Judge David Lee, who is presiding over the trial, eventually agreed to allow the testimony. But he gave an instruction to the jurors that they only consider Lowry's testimony as possible evidence in respect of Thomas Martens', not in respect of Molly Martens.
Stuart James will be the next witness today. He is a blood splatter expert and began testifying about his qualifications earlier.