The American family of the father and daughter convicted of the second-degree murder of Limerick man Jason Corbett has launched a fundraising campaign to raise $300,000 (€254,000) and fight what they claim was a “wrongful conviction”.
Molly Martens, 33, and her father, Thomas Martens, 67, a former FBI agent, have both received sentences of 20 to 25 years in prison, after being found guilty earlier this week of killing Mr Corbett, 39 in his home in Wallburg, North Carolina, on August 2, 2015.
He had been beaten to death with a paving stone and aluminium baseball bat, suffering at least 12 blows to the head.
A GoGetFunding page, ‘Right the Wrong, Help Molly & Tom’, has been set up by the aunt of Martens, Mona Earnest, to raise $300,000 to help with their legal costs in lodging an appeal and to also “fight the wrongful death suit”.
Supporters of the Corbett family have reacted angrily online to the creation of the page, just three days after they were both unanimously found guilty.
“Molly and Tom put the Corbett family through sheer hell and continue to do so through their extended family. Stop,” wrote one person. To date, over $9,000 has been raised from more than 50 backers, with a minimum donation of $10 being accepted, after the online donation page was established this week.
A payment of $1,999 was made by one member of the Martens family, but the majority are being made anonymously.
The page outlines that the legal expenses borne by the Martens family has “gutted the family financially”.
“We desperately need your help,” it adds.
It describes Mr Martens as “a 31-year veteran of the FBI” who came to his daughter’s aid when she was allegedly being strangled by Mr Corbett, in line with his defence in court.
“Tom went to Molly’s defence, and in a battle for their lives, the husband [Jason Corbett] died,” it says.
Ms Earnest has now been subjected to abuse on her Facebook page for initiating the page.
Separate to the criminal convictions, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed last month against Ms Martens, Mr Martens, and his wife, Sharon Martens.
David Lynch, the executor of Mr Corbett’s estate, and the husband of Tracey Lynch, Mr Corbett’s sister, filed the lawsuit in Davidson Superior Court.
The lawsuit alleges that Ms Martens and her father “intentionally, willfully, and maliciously assaulted” Mr Corbett, using a 70cm baseball bat and a concrete paving brick.
It also alleges that Ms Martens “assisted, aided, and abetted the defendants in the killing of Jason Corbett and in the concealment and destruction of evidence related to Jason Corbett’s death”.
Ms Martens has not been criminally charged in relation to Mr Corbett’s death.
The lawsuit seeks at least $50,000 (€42,950) in compensatory and punitive damages. Walter Holton and David Freedman, lawyers for Ms Martens and Mr Martens, said that appealing the second-degree murder conviction could take about a year.
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