Prosecution wants Corbett children's interviews kept from jury

The prosecution in the upcoming trial of a US woman charged with killing her Irish husband has called on the court to withhold interviews with the man’s children from the jury, writes Joe Leogue.

Jason Corbett, 39, was found dead in the early hours of August 2, 2015, in the home he shared with his wife Molly Martens, 33, in Panther Creek, Wallburg, North Carolina.

Ms Martens’ father, Thomas Martens, 67, has also been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Mr Corbett’s two children from a previous marriage — Jack, 12, and Sarah, 9 — were seen by social workers at the Dragonfly House, a children’s advocacy centre, in the days following his death.

Prosecution wants Corbett children's interviews kept from jury

However, documents filed yesterday in the Superior Court in Davidson County saw the State of North Carolina request that recordings and statements from the children’s interviews be deemed inadmissible as evidence for the trial, which gets underway on July 17.

“These recordings and interviews constitute inadmissible hearsay,” Assistant District Attorney Gregory Brown wrote.

“The State prays the Court order counsel for the defendants to make no reference to said recorded statements or interviews unless and until the court conducts a hearing outside the presence of the jury and deems the statements admissible,” the application stated.

The request is the latest development in the pre-trial wranglings between the prosecution and the Martens.

Last October, the court ruled that a doctor at the Dragonfly House who had seen the children in the aftermath of their father’s death must release her notes to the Martens.

At the time, the court ruled that the defendants’ right to a fair trial “outweighs any confidentiality statutes or other confidential protections shielding the requested documents from production and the interests of justice require the materials be produced”.

In June last year attorneys for Ms Martens sought a court order preventing the use of a statement given by Jack Corbett in Limerick — where the Corbett children now live with their aunt — as evidence.

At the time it was claimed the statement was given “under coercive circumstances without any of the safeguards to ensure trustworthiness or reliability”.

In the motion to exclude the Limerick statement, the defence attorney claimed that while at the Dragonfly Centre, the Corbett children said their father “would physically and verbally abuse” Ms Martens.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.


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