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Lawyer in Jason Corbett trial bangs bat against table to demonstrate force of impact

The jury in the murder trial will continue deliberating today.

13173821_277576775909737_9113723682971965353_n-1-390x285 Limerick-born Jason Corbett

Warning: Some readers may find aspects of this article distressing

AFTER SUPERIOR COURT Judge David Lee gave specific instructions yesterday afternoon, 12 jurors were sent to the deliberating room to decide the fate of Thomas Martens and Molly Martens-Corbett.

The jury began deliberating at about 3.30pm (8.30pm in Ireland) and the court was adjourned at 5pm (10pm Irish time), but the jurors continued their discussions into the morning. The jury will have to consider over 20 witness testimonies and 200 pieces of evidence.

They will reach separate verdicts for Thomas Martens and Molly Martens-Corbett. The jurors will decide between second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty.

Martens-Corbett and her father are each charged with second-degree murder in Jason Corbett’s death in North Carolina in 2015. They claim Corbett was choking Martens-Corbett and threatening to kill her, and they acted in self-defence.

Investigators have cast doubt on that defence. Authorities say Corbett was planning to leave Martens-Corbett — his second wife and former nanny to his children — and return home to Ireland.

Deliberations began after three hours of closing arguments by both sides yesterday morning. Defence lawyers for Martens questioned the totality of evidence and claimed Martens was an unwilling participant in Corbett’s death, while the prosecution claimed Martens was dishonest during his testimony.

Jones Byrd, a lawyer for Martens, said the state’s evidence confirms what Martens said on the witness stand. This includes much of the testimony of Stuart James, the blood spatter analyst who said the first impact came at the bed and that the spatters came from the bedroom and not the hallway.

Blood spatter 

Byrd emphasised that transfer blood stains on the chest area of Martens’ red polo shirt confirmed another part of Martens’ testimony.

“That is consistent with Jason Corbett catching the bat and pushing him across the room, certainly doesn’t contradict it,” Byrd said.

Byrd then questioned why the jury didn’t see the full recordings of detectives interviewing Martens or Martens-Corbett or why the detectives didn’t testify.

Similar to Walter Holton on Monday, Byrd also wondered why James didn’t visit the house or check reports to get a more accurate account of the blood spatter on the bedspread.

“[James] has been paid good money by the state of North Carolina and he couldn’t be bothered to ask for EMT reports?,” Byrd asked.

Byrd repeated that James did not see a photo of Martens wearing the boxers, which James said is usually the best practice. Instead, Byrd said, James just saw photos of Martens four hours later at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

The defence lawyer also said that pictures of Martens’ hands weren’t taken until he was at the Sheriff’s office, and claimed blood could’ve been wiped off before that time. He said if Martens’ hands were important a witness would have testified about how Martens’ hands appeared at the incident.

Byrd later said there is no evidence that the indentations on the wall happened the night of the incident, citing that no pieces of drywall were collected for evidence.

“What else have they not seen?” Byrd asked. “What else did they miss?”

David Freedman, the other defence lawyer for Martens, said that on the night of the incident Martens “awoke from a dream to a nightmare”.

Freedman said Martens had no expectation of finding anything upstairs. He added that it’s normal for a person to bring protection with them when they hear an unsettling noise.

“How irrational is that?” Freedman asked sarcastically, in reference Martens grabbing the bat. “My God!”

FBI 

Freedman said Martens spent his life defending the country as a part of the FBI and accused the prosecution of putting his law enforcement career in a negative light. The lawyer said Martens went upstairs with the intent to protect, like he did with the FBI for 40 years.

Freedman said the prosecution wants the jury to believe that Martens snapped. But Freedman reminded the jury of a report from a nurse practitioner two weeks before the incident that said Corbett reported dizziness and fainting, wasn’t taking his thyroid medication and felt stressed and angry for no reason.

original Molly Martens Corbett Source: Donnie Roberts via The Lexington Dispatch

Freedman claimed the report proves Corbett snapped, not Martens.

“You don’t have to believe me,” Freedman said. “Listen to Jason Corbett.”

The lawyer said Martens had no motivation to throw his life away by attempting to battle a person twice his size with a baseball bat. He added that Martens did not want to hit Corbett. Freedman said all Corbett had to do was let go and the incident would be done.

“Martens was in a fight for his life,” Freedman said. “All he wants to do is live.”

In response to the dry blood and cool body claims, Freedman said Dr Craig Nelson, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified that no conclusions can be drawn from dry blood or the cool body.

Freedman said on the night of 2 August 2015, Martens did what he spent his whole life doing, “protecting, or in this case, protecting his young”.

“End this nightmare and find him not guilty,” Freedman told the jury.

Brutality 

Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin began his rebuttal by describing the brutality of Corbett’s beating.

Martin said Martens and Martens-Corbett “beat the skin off his skull”. He added that they didn’t just kill Corbett, stating: “They overkilled him.”

“They turned it into something that looks like a bad humpty dumpty cartoon,” Martin said.

Throughout his statement, Martin banged the bat and brick against the prosecution’s table to demonstrate the force of impact from both objects. The prosecutor reminded the jury that at least four of the impacts were while Corbett was unconscious.

“How much force does it take to split flesh all the way to the skull?,” Martin asked as he banged a baseball bat against a table. Martin later said it took “I-hate-you force”.

The prosecutor then recounted the testimony of James and discussed the blood spatters. At one point, Martin had Greg Brown, a fellow prosecutor, lie face down on the ground to re-enact how Martens and Martens-Corbett stood over Corbett while they allegedly hit him.

“Jason Corbett is not able to tell you where they beat him, but the blood told Stuart James, and Stuart James told you,” Martin said.

Martin then discussed the passage of time. He claimed the dry blood, cool body and blood on the vacuum cleaner proved that more time passed than Martens claimed in his testimony.

Martin said it’s the prosecution’s job to find malice. The prosecutor continued by stating malice sounds like Martens constantly stating his dislike for Corbett and sounds like Martens Corbett wanting a divorce and the children.

“[Malice] feels like ‘I hate him, and I want those kids’,” Martin exclaimed, as he banged the brick against a table.

Martin then broke down Martens’ testimony, citing parts he said weren’t believable. He claimed that Martens enjoyed “matching wits” with other law enforcement, like he did in the FBI.

Ambiguity 

The prosecutor later said Martens claimed no knowledge of the brick to protect his daughter. He also recalled parts of Martens’ testimony where he paused before answering.

“If he can’t get away with ambiguity, then his memory just fails him,” Martin said.

Martin then questioned why Sharon Martens, Martens’ wife, wasn’t involved. In regard to Sharon Martens, the prosecutor said: “It’s like she vanished from the face of the earth in Martens’ testimony.”

After going over Martens’ testimony, Martin focused on Martens-Corbett, who he argued had motive to assault Corbett.

Martin reminded the jury that tissue fragments from Corbett were found on his wife’s pyjamas. He also suggested that, even though trazodone didn’t have an effect on Corbett, it is possible Martens-Corbett attempted to drug him but failed.

The prosecutor switched to testimonies that stated Martens Corbett was rubbing her neck, which he believed was another sign of dishonesty.

“It might get a first grader out of school, but it ought not to get Molly Corbett out of murder,” Martin said.

In response to the defence’s claims that evidence wasn’t sufficient, Martin said the defence wants “a perfect case with perfect evidence”, which he argued was an impossible standard.

Martin ended his two-hour closing argument by stating that Corbett did not have to die. “You have a duty to return a verdict that will deliver justice for Jason,” Martin said.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons

Read: ‘End this nightmare and find him not guilty’ – Court hears final arguments in Corbett murder trial

Read: ‘Why didn’t they stop? That’s malice’: Jury hears closing arguments in Corbett murder trial

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Ben Coley

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