Prosecutors in the high-profile US trial of Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens over the murder of her Irish husband are expected to make their opening argument on Monday, now that the week-long jury selection process has come to a conclusion.
The Martens are both on trial for second-degree murder.
Limerick native Jason Corbett, aged 39, was found bludgeoned to death in the early hours of August 2, 2015, at the house he shared with his wife at 160 Panther Court in the Meadowlands, a golf-course community in Davidson County, North Carolina.
The two lived there with Mr Corbett’s children, Jack and Sarah, from his first marriage, to Margaret Fitzpatrick Corbett, who died from a sudden asthma attack in November 2006.
Ms Martens and Thomas Martens have pleaded not guilty and claimed self-defence and defence of others.
The jury selection process started on Monday, when a pool of 143 potential jurors were brought to Courtroom C of the Davidson Superior Court.
Ten jurors were selected by yesterday’s session, with two more and a further two alternate jurors left to be chosen.
The lengthy process took an unexpected twist on Thursday when a juror who had already been seated was dismissed after she told Judge Lee and the attorneys that a friend had told her information about the case. She gave more specific details to the attorneys and Judge Lee in chambers.
In court, the juror said that the friend whom she had known for 30 years also implied that she should recuse herself from the jury. The juror is a criminal defence attorney.
She said she would try to be fair and impartial.
Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin, however, sought to dismiss her for cause. Judge Lee denied the motion, but Mr Martin sought to use one of the prosecution’s peremptory challenges.
Such challenges allow attorneys from either side to reject a certain number of potential jurors without stating a reason.
Walter Holton and David Freedman, attorneys for Thomas and Molly Martens respectively, objected.
However, Judge Lee ultimately decided to let prosecutors use the peremptory challenge and the juror was dismissed.
On Wednesday, another juror, who works as a clerk at the Davidson County courthouse, was eventually dismissed after Mr Freedman made a motion that she be dismissed for cause.
Mr Freedman and Mr Holton had previously filed a motion asking that the trial be moved and alleged bias on the part of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.
Mr Holton said there might be evidence that the clerk’s office had bias in how it handled a child custody case involving Jason Corbett’s children.
Judge Lee denied the motions from Mr Freedman and Mr Holton.
However, Mr Freedman then used one of his own peremptory challenges, and also dismissed two other jurors, including one who is a member of a group known as Davidson County Crime Watch. Mr Holton moved to dismiss two jurors.
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