A new trial into the murder of Irish man Jason Corbett potentially hangs in the balance, a major US public service network documentary revealed last night.
The hour-long CBS documentary on the killing of Jason Corbett entitled In the Name of Jason, which screened at 10pm ET (3am Irish time), has claimed that key evidence was not put before the jury that convicted Jason's wife Molly and her father of murdering him.
Molly Martens Corbett, aged 35, and her father Tom, aged 68, a retired FBI agent with 30 years experience, were convicted of the second-degree murder of the Limerick man, aged 39, at his US home at Panther Creek, North Carolina, on August 2, 2015.
The Martens pair pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed self-defence was the reason behind their actions.
Mr Corbett was bludgeoned to death by an aluminium baseball bat and paving stone while he slept.
The American woman first met Mr Corbett when she moved to Limerick following the death of his first wife, Mags Fitzpatrick, due to an asthma attack in 2006.
She subsequently married Mr Corbett in 2011 in the US, following the businessman’s relocation there.
The documentary filmed in January this year carried out interviews with Jason’s sister Tracey who has led the campaign to have the real Jason portrayed, Jason’s twin brother Wayne, close friend Lynn Shanahan and groomsman Paul Dillon. Jason's children Jack and Sarah did not speak on camera but were happy being filmed.
Lynn recalled how she had a feeling of 'trouble ahead' when she met Molly off the plane in Shannon the first time she arrived in Ireland.
The minute I saw her with the big bouncing curls...She was in her 20s. She had a big bright colour coat, fur collar, cowboy boots, was dressed and make-up done like a pageant queen as we would have said. She just seemed not the nannyin' type.
“It was at Freddy's Bistro in Limerick on Valentine's Day 2010, nearly two years after Molly Martens arrived to be an au pair, that Jason asked her to be his wife. Molly was over the moon and immediately began planning for a wedding back in the States.”
Jason's sister Tracey said: “ A lot of it (his unhappiness) was down to the relationship with Molly.
“She was acting strange. Things occurring that he wasn't comfortable with and he missed Ireland, wanted to move back. But he knew and said that there would be huge difficulty in him coming back - once Molly found out.”
While awaiting the murder trial, Tracey Lynch settled Jack and Sarah into their new home back in Ireland. They had intensive therapy, she says, and adjusted well.
Uncle and brother-in-law of Molly and Tom, Mike Earnest agreed to be interviewed and while he thought the pair were, “ok as a couple, there were issues that were coming up".
He continues to believe there will be a retrial and that Tom and Molly will be cleared.
When it comes to the trial there were mistakes and errors made. There's part of me that, you know, kind of maybe has some thankfulness that so many errors were made at trial that leaves room for a proper appellate decision in favour of Tom and Molly.
“Despite the fact that he is sitting in this awful miscarriage of justice in jail he is thankful for being alive and that he saved his daughter’s life.”
Others who took part in the programme include Connor Martens, a brother of the convicted woman, and an unidentified woman who claimed she has been subjected to harassment for supporting the Martens.
The unidentified woman claimed that Molly told her that she was subjected to verbal and physical violence from Jason.
A former fiancé of Molly’s, Keith MaGinn, also said she (Molly) was diagnosed with depression which was subsequently backed up by medical records.
The case of the father and daughter’s second-degree murder now stands before North Carolina’s Appeal Court since January. Programme host Maureen Maher highlighted that a potential new trial now hangs in the balance.
She said comments made by the Jury foreman following the Martens’ conviction, throws their continued incarceration into doubt.
"He said they (jury) did not discuss the verdict. ‘We didn’t discuss a verdict but in having private conversations everybody, we could read that everybody was going in the same direction.’”
The Martens’ defence team has based its appeal, in part, on what they claim is jury misconduct as a result of his comments.
Ms Maher explained that: “It (Jury foreman comments) certainly could (put the case in doubt) because every day the judge said (the jurors) were not to have private conversations, (they) were not to discuss it as a group. In most cases, the notes and notebooks taken by jurors are put into a sealed envelope and they are not usually taken home.”
The host also pointed out that there are several other issues when it comes to the original trial which may result in the Appeals Court ordering a retrial.
She added that the forthcoming appeal may go in the Martens’ favour.
One of the tell-tale signs is that the Appellant Court took oral arguments and that’s not common. Usually, they’ll read it (evidence) and give a statement or written statements but they called them in (Martens and Corbetts) and let’s hear what you have to say - both sides.
However, Assistant District Attorney for Davidson County Alan Martin through tears told the programme that the pair, “beat him (Jason) horribly and viciously and no human being deserves to leave their marital bedroom with their skull destroyed like what happened to Jason."
“He suffered blunt force trauma to the head and had at least a dozen blows to the head.”
He questioned how the facts could be seen to be acts of self-defence.
The father and daughter admitted to killing him and claimed they acted in self-defence as Jason was trying to choke Molly. In the police recordings, Tom clearly states, “He’s got Molly by the throat like this,” while his daughter added: “I was screaming help and he (Jason) was screaming ‘I’m going to kill you.’”
Mr Martens added in his police interviews: “I did not like his (Jason’s) behaviour. I hit him until the threat was over.”
While Molly was being interviewed by Davidson County Investigators she claimed that there was domestic abuse taking place in the house (they shared) and that it had been occurring, “forever” when questioned.
Molly’s brother Connor opens up in the programme about how the family noticed the couple were having, “a lot more verbal altercations and verbal abuse". He adds it had not thought a conviction possible for Molly and Tom.
Both are serving 20 and 25 years in separate jails in North Carolina. If they fail to win a retrial with the Court of Appeals, their last option is to appeal to North Carolina Supreme Court.
Tracey summed up the events of that fatal night. "They (Martens) didn't have a scratch, an abrasion. Molly had a delicate bracelet on her that - that night that she continued to wear - throughout the trial.
“I wrote the book (My brother Jason) to give him back his character. The Martens, Molly Martens in particular, tried to destroy his character.
"Jason eventually found himself back in the only place on this Earth he ever wanted to be - in the arms of his beloved Mags.”
I hope they're together somewhere. The memories just float to the surface, and you know, they'll always be part of our lives.