By Michael L Hewlett
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.
The sister of Irish businessman Jason Corbett has testified that her brother told her several times, starting a year before he died, that he wanted to move back to Ireland.
Tracey Lynch took the stand today. Her testimony about her conversations with her brother about leaving for Ireland permanently with his two children, Jack and Sarah, was hotly contested, and Judge David Lee ultimately decided that she could not testify to those conversations in front of the jury.
Lynch and her husband, David Lynch, have legal guardianship of Jason's two children, who live in Ireland. Guardianship was granted after a protracted child custody battle with Jason's wife, Molly Martens.
Outside the presence of the jury, Tracey Lynch testified that Jason Corbett had expressed to her that he wanted to go back to Ireland. The initial conversation was in August 2014, she said.
"He had good friends there and appreciated them," she said. "He planned to go back there before Jack started secondary school."
But David Freedman, Thomas Martens' attorney, got her to acknowledge on cross-examination that Jason Corbett had not made any plane reservations or made any other arrangements to go back to Ireland on a permanent basis.
Assistant District Attorney Ina Stanton noted that Jason Corbett's passport was found on a nightstand in the master bedroom where his body was found.
Tracey Lynch also recounted when Jason's first wife, Margaret Fitzpatrick Corbett, died in November 2006. She said Jason Corbett had called 911 and had placed her in the car to drive to the hospital. At some point, she stopped breathing.
"Jason took her out of the car and started performing CPR," she said.
Lynch said Jason's first wife was later put into an ambulance but it was too late. She died on the way, she said.
Lynch also told the jury how Jason and Molly Martens met in 2008. Jason had hired Molly as an au pair to take care of household duties and help take care of the children. But by 2011, they had married and moved to the United States, Lynch said.
Meanwhile, the Judge has denied a motion to have the charges thrown out, saying there is insufficient evidence for second degree murder.
A lead detective falsely told an insurance agent that Molly Martens refused to cooperate and answer questions about the death of her husband, Irish businessman Jason Corbett, an attorney for Ms Martens alleged in court.
It was the latest twist in the second-degree murder trial into the death of Jason Corbett, 39, who was found bludgeoned to death two years ago in his house at his house on 160 Panther Creek Court in the Meadowlands, a golf-course community in Davidson County.
Molly Martens, 33, and her father, Thomas Martens, a former FBI agent, are on trial for second-degree murder. They deny the charge. Davidson County prosecutors allege that the two used a 28-inch Louisville Slugger baseball bat and a concrete paving brick to strike Jason Corbett in the head multiple times.
Molly and Thomas Martens are claiming self-defense and the defense of others, alleging that Jason was choking Molly and threatening to kill her. They say Thomas Martens intervened to save his daughter's life.
The issue today was reports from an insurance agent by the name of Alice Huffman, whom Lt. Wanda Thompson had interviewed about the Corbetts’ insurance policy.
"Two days into the trial, we receive this report," Walter Holton, one of Molly Martens' attorneys, said outside the presence of the jury. "It is my information that this report was not available to the district attorney or our office until two days into the trial."
Huffman, Holton said, gave detailed accounts of her conversations with Thompson. In one of those conversations, Huffman says Thompson told her that Molly Martens refused to answer questions from investigators and that she requested to see an attorney. Holton said that's simply not true.
"Molly Martens never requested an attorney and never refused to cooperate," he said.
Those documents from Huffman would be used to impeach Thompson, who is the next witness in the prosecution's case. Thompson supervises the detectives in the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, including the lead detectives in this case. Thompson also wrote affidavits for a number of the search warrants in the case.
Attorneys Holton and David Freedman said defense attorneys would have a limited opportunity to impeach Thompson on what Huffman wrote in her documents. That's because, Holton said, Huffman has refused to talk to defense attorneys and she lives in Maine. It would be difficult to get a court order during the trial to get Huffman to Davidson County to testify, Holton said.
"We had no notice that this witness existed," he said.
Assistant District Attorney Ina Stanton argued that defense attorneys will have a chance to cross-examine Thompson and that prosecutors don't plan to ask Thompson about her interviews with Huffman.
Judge David Lee said he would make a decision when court comes back later.
Earlier this morning, blood stain analyst Stuart James was cross-examined by defense attorneys Jones Byrd, for Thomas Martens, and Holton, for Molly Martens.
Byrd focused on the fact that James did not visit the Corbett house.
"You didn't think it was important to get a feel of the house, the angles?" Byrd said.
"I didn't see any real value in doing that," James said. "There wasn't any probative value."
James said by the time he got involved in the case, it had been a long time since the incident had occurred.
Byrd also noted that the first diagram of the house wasn't to scale. In fact, during the trial, investigators went back to the house to produce a new diagram. James said that second diagram wasn't to scale either.
But he added that his conclusions are based on approximate measurements of the house.
Both Holton and Byrd also hammered James on why all stains on Martens' boxer shorts and Molly Martens' pajamas weren't tested. It wasn't necessary because the stains that weren't tested were consistent in size, shape and pattern to the stains that had been confirmed to be human blood, James said.
In testimony Tuesday and Thursday, James concluded that the first blow to Jason Corbett's head happened at or near the bed. He also concluded that the stains on the lower part of Molly Martens' pajama bottoms and the underside of Martens' boxer shorts suggest that the two were close to Jason Corbett when he was being struck and that at least some of the blows were when Jason Corbett was close to the ground.