The district attorney leading the prosecution against the father and daughter killers of Irishman Jason Corbett has said he is “more concerned” about “achieving justice” that being swayed by “public opinion” over the handling of the murder case.
A petition, created by the father-of-two’s family to secure a retrial in the US for the convicted killers, Thomas, 71, and Molly, 37, has garnered around 8,000 signatures.
Prosecutors have offered a plea deal to the Martens which the Corbett family have slammed, and are “devastated” over.
The Limerick man’s two children Jack, 16, and his sister, Sarah Corbett Lynch, 14, were orphaned when their 39-year-old father was murdered in his home in Walburg, North Carolina, on August 2, 2015 while he slept.
The children’s biological mother, Mags, died in 2006 following an asthma attack.
Ms Martens first met Mr Corbett when she moved to Limerick from the US, as his children’s nanny. She subsequently married Mr Corbett in 2011.
Ms Martens and her father Tom, a retired FBI agent with 30 years of experience, were convicted of Mr Corbett's death by a US court in August 2017.
Reports on the US news channel WFMY News2 said that district attorney Garry Frank, because he was in “pre-trial mode”, could not ethically "confirm” or “deny” a plea deal.
Mr Frank added, the broadcast reports, that “DAs need to be more worried about seeking justice than public opinion”.
Later this evening, at 7pm Irish time, there will be a pre-trial hearing of the Martens at Davidson County Courthouse.
The Corbett family have said in statement: “The basis of the retrial was down to a technicality on the testing of blood on Tom Marten's shorts which could have been easily resolved and the children’s statements conducted whilst in the custody of the Martens family.
“Not only did the children recant these statement made while terrified to child protected services. They also offered new completing evidence. Which was corroborated by their counsellor in Ireland.”
The family added: “Davidson County District Attorney, Garry Frank's has decided not to grant a retrial and instead offer a plea deal of voluntary manslaughter which carries a sentence of 51 - 64 months. Forty four months have already been served so should they accept this plea deal, and with time served, they will serve only an additional two years before been released.
“The Corbetts have fought relentlessly to protect Jason's two young children from the trauma of this social media campaign instigated by friends and family members of the Martens family as well as fought to clear their beloved brother and son's name from the relentless and volatile lies been circulated all over social media by members of the Martens family labelling him an abuser.
In February 2020, the North Carolina Court of Appeal ruled that both defendants were entitled to a new trial.
The North Carolina Supreme Court heard the case in January and upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal last month.
They could be freed permanently in 22 months.
The Marten’s family have not, so far, issued an up-to-date statement.
The children claim they were “coached to lie” about domestic abuse which allegedly occurred in their home.
Evidence during the original court trial was given that Ms Martens suffered with mental health issues for a long period of time and that she had hoped to adopt her late husband’s children which he did not agree to.
The children detailed for Davidson County detectives the long history of alleged child abuse perpetrated against them by their stepmother.
The children, who were in the house at the time of their father’s death, now live in Limerick with their Irish aunt and uncle.