A sibling of Jason Corbett has angrily rejected claims that his deceased brother was "physically and emotionally abusive" towards his wife Molly Martens.
John Corbett said he believed supporters of Ms Martens - who is locked in a bitter dispute with the Corbetts over custody of her stepchildren - have tried to blacken his brother's name in order to help Ms Martens’ case.
Jason Corbett and Molly Martens.
Ms Martens had sought custody of Jack, 10, and Sarah, 8, - but her case was dismissed by US family law court yesterday, which granted custody of the children to Mr Corbett's sister Tracey and her husband David.
The Limerick couple had planned to return to Ireland with the children tomorrow, however Ms Martens in understood to have lodged an appeal, which could prevent the children leaving the US.
Ms Martens’ lawyer David Freedman has said that his client was devastated that her case has been thrown out.
“Well, she’s distraught,” he said.
“Again, she’s raised those children since they were one and three, she’s the mother they’ve known, she was everything to them, and it’s just very devastating … for them to be ripped away from her in the middle of the night.”
The appeal “is in the process of being done”, he confirmed earlier.
Tensions between the families escalated further after Amanda Mui, a cousin of Ms Martens, posted claims on social media alleging that Jason Corbett was abusive to Ms Martens.
Mui, originally from Naples, Florida but living in Semiole Florida, posted a message on Facebook alleging that Molly Martens had suffered "emotional and physical abuse from her late husband".
"She's now fighting to retain custody of the children she's raised for years now," the statement read.
"Should two children lose the only parent they have left? Should two children be separated from the only real mother they've ever had," she added.
"Molly is a wonderful mother; it's the love she has for her kids that has given her the strength to survive the abuse her late husband put her through. Pray that the courts acknowledge her as the children's mother and guardian," Ms Mui said.
When asked to comment on Ms Mui's claims, John Corbett said: "The audacity of it, to be brutally honest, (it) beggars belief."
"He was a gentle giant. He was 6 ft 2, 18 stone, but he was a big teddy bear and he wouldn't hurt a fly."
Jason Corbett with his children
"They are trying to degrade my brother's character," he added.
Ms Martens and her father Thomas, an ex-FBI officer, are both persons of interest in the investigation into Jason Corbett's death.
Police believe he was struck on the head with a baseball bat during a domestic argument at his adopted home in North Carolina on August 2 last.
The children's mother, Mags Fitzpatrick, died in 2011 from an asthma attack.
John Corbett described the appeal against yesterday's custody ruling as "callous", "cold and calculating".
"It's a desperate attempt to try and prevent my brother's children coming home to his true family," he said.
"A senior family court judge decided that the long term future and care of Sarah and Jack would be most beneficial with (Jason's) true family in Ireland."
Mr Corbett claimed Ms Martens was seeking custody to support her good name in the event of any possible charges been brought against her in relation to her husband's death.
Catherine Fitzpatrick, an aunt of Jack and Sarah Corbett, told Limerick's Live 95FM, that Mr Corbett's family were not informed of his death until 10 hours after he was killed.
"To leave Jason's family for 10 hours before telling them what had happened to her son was just disgusting," she said.
John Corbett said: "I love my brother. He was killed brutally, in very unusual circumstances, and hopefully that will be proven."
"It's a horror story. I wouldn't wish it on anybody. The way it's being played out is actually inhumane," he said.
Maternal grandmother to Jack and Sarah Corbett, Marion Fitzpatrick, says she cannot wait to see them.
"The incentive now is for Jack and Sarah and I'm going to get well, to be able to run around with them kids and give them hugs and kisses - and let them know how much we love them," she said.
Reporting by David Raleigh