Murder accused ‘had no visible signs of injury’

Molly Martens and her father, Thomas Martens, had no visible signs of injury the morning that Irish businessman Jason Corbett was bludgeoned to death in an incident that left a bloody scene, a Davidson County law-enforcement officer said, writes Michael L Hewlett.

“Nothing remarkable except that she (Ms Martens) had blood on the top of her head,” said Cpl Clayton Dagenhardt of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

Cpl Dagenhardt said he saw nothing remarkable about Mr Martens that morning either.

Thomas Martens is on trial for second-degree murder.

Ms Martens, aged 33, and Mr Martens, aged 67, a former FBI agent, are on trial for second-degree murder in the death of Mr Corbett in the early hours of August. 2, 2015. Ms Martens was Mr Corbett’s second wife. They lived at 160 Panther Creek Court in the Meadowlands, a golf-course community in Davidson County, with his children, Jack and Sarah, from his first marriage.

Cpl Dagenhardt testified that he received a call about a cardiac event just after 3am on August 2, 2015. Two minutes after receiving that call, he received another saying it had been upgraded to an assault. He got to the house about 3.16am.

He saw an EMS paramedic that he knew coming out of the house who told him, “It’s bad. It’s really bad. It’s a horrible scene.”

Cpl Dagenhardt said he walked into the house, took a left, and went into the master bedroom where he found Mr Corbett’s body on the floor, face up. He saw blood on his face around his eye and on several areas of his body. He also saw blood on several of the walls, including leading to the bedroom’s bathroom.

Cpl Dagenhardt testified that he and another officer went to collect Jack and Sarah, who were asleep upstairs. He said he awoke Sarah and led her backwards down the stairs and told her to keep her eyes closed. He ended up carrying her.

In other testimony, the medical examiner talked about the autopsy of Mr Corbett.

Dr Craig Nelson, a medical examiner for the North Carolina office of the chief medical examiner, testified that Mr Corbett had 10 different impact sites on his head that indicated blunt-force trauma. Two of those impact sites showed complex lacerations that indicated he was struck more than once, said Dr Nelson.

At one point, Dr Nelson stood in front of the jury alongside assistant district attorney Alan Martin as they went over 13 autopsy photos.

When Dr Nelson got to one photo that showed the top of Mr Corbett’s head with his scalp peeled off, one of the jurors started gagging, and a bailiff came running with a trash can into which she appeared to vomit. The juror left the courtroom with the bin and was gone for several minutes.

Judge David Lee sent the jury out and allowed the juror who got sick to come in by herself. He asked her if she could continue.

“Yes sir,” she answered. “It was a combination of not eating breakfast.”

The juror left the court-room, and David Freedman, for Ms Martens, made a motion for the juror to be dismissed. Walter Holton, Ms Corbett’s attorney, joined in the motion. “She disrupted the proceeding and I’m concerned about how it will affect the other jurors,” he said.

Judge Lee denied the motion, saying he was satisfied with the juror’s answers.

The jury was brought back in and Dr Nelson continued his testimony.

He testified that Mr Corbett had a series of lacerations and abrasions on his face and head and the rest of the body that were consistent with blunt-force trauma.

Dr Nelson said the two lacerations indicative of multiple blows had skull fractures underneath. Any blow to the head that results in skull fractures would result in a loss of consciousness, he said.

Under cross-examination by Mr Freedman, Dr Nelson acknowledged that he doesn’t know what object caused the blunt-force trauma. “These injuries don’t have any specific features that tell me what kind of object created them,” he said.

The case continues.

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