A US man charged with murdering his Irish son-in-law, Jason Corbett, will claim that Mr Corbett’s father-in-law from his first marriage held Mr Corbett responsible for his first wife’s death, court documents have revealed, writes Joe Leogue.
The claim has been made weeks after the prosecution accused Thomas Martens and his daughter, Molly, of using pre-trial submissions to make public claims that may not be accepted as evidence when they stand trial for the murder of Mr Corbett, Molly’s husband.
Mr Corbett, 39, was found dead in the early hours of August 2, 2015, in the home he shared with Ms Martens, 33, in Panther Creek, Wallburg, North Carolina.
Mr Corbett’s children from his first marriage also lived in the home, and they are now in the custody of Mr Corbett’s family, in Limerick. Both Ms Martens and her father have been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The trial is due to be held this summer, and the pair is expected to argue that Mr Corbett’s killing was self-defence.
Documents released by a North Carolina Court, last week, show that Mr Martens, 67, will claim that the late Michael Fitzpatrick — Mr Corbett’s father-in-law from his first marriage — had told him that he believed Mr Corbett ‘caused the death’ of his first wife, Margaret.
A Notice of Intent to Introduce Statements, lodged with the Superior Court of Davidson County, states that Mr Martens intends “to introduce at trial statements made to the defendant by the late Michael Fitzpatrick, the father of Margaret Corbett, Jason Corbett’s deceased first wife.”
“The content of the statements were that Mr Fitzpatrick believed that Mr Corbett had caused the death of Mr Fitzpatrick’s daughter, Margaret Corbett,” the document states.
“Mr Fitzpatrick’s prior statements are offered in support of the defendant’s asserted defence of self-defense and defense-of-others, in that they are relevant to the defendant’s state of mind during the alleged altercation with Jason Corbett,” it read.
Pre-trial motions will be held next week, for the court to determine what evidence from both sides will go before the jury. However, the North Carolina court has released the pre-trial submissions to the media, both in the US and Ireland, including the search warrant applications of the detectives investigating the case.
These reveal that the police do not believe the scene of Mr Corbett’s death was consistent with the struggle the Martens claim led to his killing.
Last month, defence attorneys for the Martens attempted to have the trial moved to another county, claiming ‘initial, inaccurate and misleading allegations’ released by the court had prejudiced the trial.
The State of North Carolina rejected this, and claimed the Martens had used pre-trial submissions to make public claims that may not be accepted as trial evidence.#
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner newspaper.