No fingerprints were found on the 28in Louisville Slugger baseball bat used to hit Irish businessman Jason Corbett multiple times in the head in the early hours of August 2, 2015, a forensic analyst with the North Carolina State Crime Lab testified yesterday.
Adrianne Reeve, who works as an analyst with the State Crime Lab, said she did not find any latent fingerprints on the baseball bat.
Another analyst, Melanie Carson, said in court that one sample of hair taken from the bat was microscopically consistent with hair that had been collected from Mr Corbett’s head. No conclusions could be made about a second sample of hair.
Ms Carson also testified that, out of 25 samples of hair taken from a concrete paving brick prosecutors allege was also used to beat Mr Corbett, 12 hairs belonged to Mr Corbett. The rest did not appear to match either Molly Martens, Mr Corbett’s wife, or her father, Thomas Martens.
Ms Martens, aged 33, and Mr Martens, aged 67, a former FBI agent, are facing trial for second-degree murder in Mr Corbett’s death. He died from blunt-force trauma to the head, according to an autopsy.
Dr Craig Nelson, a medical examiner, testified last week that Mr Corbett was struck in the head at least 12 times and that he was beaten so badly that he had a number of skull fractures.
Wendell Ivory, a forensic analyst with the State Crime Lab, was last night testifying about his DNA analysis of the baseball bat, the concrete paving brick, and samples of hair and blood that were collected.
Earlier yesterday, Lt Frank Young showed jurors the baseball bat and the concrete paving brick. Hair and blood were collected from each of the items.
Jurors were also able to take a look at the brick, which was placed in a clear plastic container and passed among the jurors.
Lt Young showed the jurors the red polo shirt and the white shorts that Mr Martens was wearing when investigators arrived at 160 Panther Creek Court on August 2, 2015. He also showed the blue pyjamas that Ms Martens was wearing that morning.
Defence attorneys for Mr Martens and Ms Martens also questioned a Davidson County sheriff’s investigator on why he did not collect certain evidence.
That includes what Walter Holton, attorney for Ms Martens, said is a hair on Mr Corbett’s right hand. During opening statements, Mr Holton argued that the hair belonged to Ms Martens and helped corroborate her story that Mr Corbett was strangling her when her father struck Mr Corbett with a baseball bat.
The line of questioning points to the key issue in the case — whether Ms Martens and Mr Martens intentionally beat Mr Corbett to death with a baseball bat and a concrete paving brick or whether the two killed Mr Corbett in an act of self- defence and the defence of others.
“Did you see her in the foetal position on the ground,” Mr Holton asked Lt Young of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.
Lt Young is the crime scene supervisor who oversaw the collection of evidence and took photographs of Ms Martens and Mr Martens. He specifically took pictures of Ms Martens at the request of an officer because she had told investigators she had been choked.
Mr Young told Mr Holton he did not see Ms Martens in the foetal position, nor did he see signs she had vomited or suffered from nausea.
Mr Holton showed a picture of Ms Martens that had already been entered into evidence. He pointed to what he said was a mark on her neck just under her ear.
“It appears to be dried blood,” said Mr Young.
Mr Holton responded: “Did you test it? Did you sample it? Why didn’t you get a sample of it?”
Mr Holton asked Mr Young about his training in the collection of evidence and whether he had specific training in collecting evidence in strangulation cases. Mr Young said he had not and that he had attended a domestic violence training conference in the early 2000s.
He did say that it would be important if an alleged victim were to describe the method of strangulation — whether it was by hand or rope. He asked her whether it would be relevant if she had redness around her neck. Paramedics who were at the scene reported that Ms Martens had a light redness around her neck, saying it looked more like a sunburn.
David Freedman, attorney for Ms Martens, asked Mr Young whether he had photographed Mr Martens at the house and whether he had taken pictures of Mr Martens in his underwear, which is what Mr Martens was allegedly wearing during the altercation between him and Mr Corbett. Mr Young said no to both questions.
Both attorneys have also noted during their cross-examinations that there are pictures of what appears to be blood splatter on the bottom of Mr Corbett’s feet, which they argue would indicate that he was still moving after he was struck.
Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown has said the next witness will be a co-worker of Mr Corbett at Multi Packaging Solutions, where Mr Corbett was a manager.
A blood splatter expert is also expected to provide critical testimony in the trial.
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