Thomas Martens, the man accused of murdering his son-in-law Jason Corbett, testified in court yesterday that, during the time of the Irishman’s marriage to his daughter, Molly Martens, Mr Corbett was not “his favourite person.”
At the trial in North Carolina, Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown asked Mr Martens about comments he is alleged to have made to a co-worker at Oak Ridge Laboratory in Tennessee where he worked. Joann Lowry testified that, two months before Mr Corbett died, Mr Martens said he hated him.
Mr Martens said he did not recall that specific instance and said he didn’t like using the word “hate”. However, Martens did agree he had made disparaging remarks about Mr Corbett in the past. Mr Martens said he would never say he hated someone, but it was true that he disliked him.
“We made nice with each other,” Mr Martens said. “We were superficially friendly.”
The prosecution later asked Mr Martens about statements he had made on previous occasions regarding his disapproval of Mr Corbett.
One of these was allegedly a statement to another coworker when asked why he did not attend a trip to Washington DC, with Mr Corbett, Ms Martens, his wife, and the grandchildren.
“Why would I want to go on vacation with that asshole?” Mr Martens allegedly stated.
According to the prosecution, Mr Martens told police Mr Corbett “never measured up to my daughter.”
Mr Brown zeroed in on Mr Martens’ FBI training and asked him a series of questions about his training in self-defence. Mr Martens served in criminal investigation and counter-intelligence for more than 31 years and was trained in self-defence.
Mr Martens acknowledged it is possible for a smaller man, such as himself, to win in a fight against a lagger man with a weapon.
When asked if he was trained in how to defend himself without the use of deadly force, Mr Martens said he was trained in deadly force and he was not sure he had the type of training that Mr Brown described.
Mr Martens said he was taught how to shoot and how to defend himself against a knife attack, among other things. He also was taught to use judgment when using force and that law-enforcement officers are allowed to use deadly force if their lives are threatened, he claimed.
Mr Brown also argued outside the presence of the jury that a possible motive for killing Mr Corbett is that he had a $600,000 life insurance policy and that Ms Martens was the beneficiary.
Walter Holton, attorney for Ms Martens, objected to the jury hearing that evidence because Ms Martens never made a claim on the insurance policy after Mr Corbett’s death. He also said the complete facts about the insurance policy were not disclosed to the defence until two days into the trial.
The prosecution asked if Mr Martens was aware of Mr Corbett’s assets and if he was aware that Mr Corbett transferred approximately $350,000 to pay for the house at Panther Creek Court. Mr Martens said he was not aware of Mr Corbett’s assets and was not sure on the exact amount of the house.
Mr Martens said that he was not aware of any physical altercations between Ms Martens and Mr Corbett before the night of the incident. He said that he once observed bruises on Ms Martens, but did not know the source. He said that at first, he approved of the marriage.
Mr Martens later said he had FBI training with a baton, which he agreed could be used similarly to an aluminium bat. The prosecution asked if it was an intentional decision to strike Mr Corbett, and Mr Martens answered “yes.”
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