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

The prosecution and defence began their closing arguments yesterday, before the jury starts its deliberations.

Molly Corbett is accused, along with her father, of murdering her husband Jason Corbett.
Molly Corbett is accused, along with her father, of murdering her husband Jason Corbett.

LAWYERS IN THE Jason Corbett trial have begun giving their closing arguments, with the prosecution emphasising ‘malice, overkill and excessive force’ in the killing of the Limerick man, while the defence questioned whether the State provided enough evidence to rule against self-defence.

In his closing argument, Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown claimed the crime scene was staged, and the CPR given by Thomas Martens and Molly Corbett was fake.

Brown told the jury that the 911 operator instructed Martens to tilt Jason Corbett’s head during CPR and that Corbett’s head was full of blood.

“His [Thomas Martens] hands are spotless,” Brown said. “He did not (tilt the head).”

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

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

Brown later questioned the timing of Martens’ 911 call. He discussed the dry blood on Jason Corbett’s face and chest.

He recalled the testimony of Corporal CS Dagenhardt — an officer who has seen over 200 crime scenes — who testified that he saw congealed blood that looked like jelly on the floor.

The prosecutor said the paramedics testified that no electrical activity was found and that Jason Corbett’s body felt cool while in the ambulance.

Brown spoke about the vacuum cleaner, which was moved from its side to an upright position according to the direction of blood. He claimed that this proved Martens, an FBI agent, was attempting to create a story.

“The physical evidence at the scene shows that this is not credible,” said Brown, in regard to Martens’ claim that he called 911 as soon as Jason Corbett went to the ground.

Brown then went through the blood spatter across the master bedroom and bathroom, showing photos with blood stains and pieces of scalp on the floor. He recited all the injuries that Dr Craig Nelson found during his autopsy, including ten different impact sites on the head — two of which received multiple blows.

The prosecutor told the jury that Dr Stuart James, the blood spatter analyst, found that some impact spatters on the clothes of Martens and Molly Corbett showed they were above Jason Corbett during part of the impacts.

13173821_277576775909737_9113723682971965353 The prosecution said Jason Corbett had planned to return to Ireland

“Why didn’t they stop?” Brown asked. “Ladies and gentlemen, that’s malice.”

Brown described Martens as the aggressor since he brought the bat with him and because he rushed at Jason Corbett during the incident. He said Martens decided “he was going to beat his son-in-law” before he left the basement.

Brown said Molly Corbett’s appearance the night of the incident wasn’t consistent with being attacked. He said she had no torn clothes and that her jewellery hadn’t been bent or torn.

“Even the plastic clip in the back of her hair is still in place,” Brown said.

The prosecutor also questioned why Sharon Martens, Thomas Martens’ wife, didn’t rush to check on her daughter or call 911.

Brown ended his argument by stating “the voice of justice” will eventually be heard.

“Jason Corbett can’t speak to you today, but his blood speaks the truth and screams for justice,” Brown said.

Defence closing argument

Walter Holton, the defence lawyer for Molly Corbett, stressed that the burden of proof was firmly placed on the prosecution’s shoulders. He explained to the jury that “as soon as you find a reasonable doubt, your job is done”.

“It’s (the prosecution’s) job to prove this didn’t happen,” Holton told the jury. “It’s not my job. It’s not your job.”

The defence lawyer then discussed the photo of a strand of blonde hair intertwined in Jason Corbett’s hand, which he also emphasised in his opening statements two weeks ago.

He once again questioned why the blonde hair wasn’t collected or tested.

“The hair in Jason’s hand? Oops! Oops!” Holton said. “We didn’t talk about that.”

Holton highlighted that no fingernail clippings from Molly Corbett or Jason Corbett were examined and that the photo of blood on Molly Corbett’s face was ignored and not tested.

The defence lawyer said he didn’t believe blood spatter analyst Stuart James did enough for a thorough investigation.

He cited that James never visited the house to see the spatter even though he had the opportunity. Instead, Holton noted that James was given a not-to-scale version of the house’s layout.

Holton also believed James did not do enough to investigate what happened to Molly Corbett.

“(James) said, ‘Well that’s not significant to my investigation,’” Holton said. “Well that’s significant to us.”

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Holton then revisited the allegation by Martens that Jason Corbett had Molly Corbett in a choke hold with his right arm. He said there were more injuries to Jason Corbett’s left arm than his right arm, suggesting that Jason Corbett defended himself with his left arm while choking Molly Corbett with his right arm.

He said Jason Corbett suffered no injuries to his teeth or chin, suggesting Molly Corbett’s head could have been in the way.

“If you wanted to kill someone, wouldn’t you hit them in the face like a boxer?” Holton asked. “Something was protecting his teeth and his chin.”

The defence lawyer later rejected claims that Martens or Molly Corbett moved the vacuum cleaner to alter the crime scene. He said the vacuum could have been moved to perform CPR or one of the paramedics may have moved it.

Holton said the jury must think about the circumstances as they appeared on the night of the incident. He wanted the jury to imagine the level of fear felt by Martens and Molly Corbett under the described circumstances.

The defence lawyer said that if it’s logically possible that it could have been self-defence, and the prosecution doesn’t rule it out, then the State has failed.

“No force in this universe is more powerful than the instinct to protect your own children,” said Holton, regarding the possibility of self-defence.

Closing arguments will continue with Martens’ lawyers today followed by a rebuttal from the prosecution.

Yesterday’s statements came after the defence rested its case earlier in the day.

Before the defence rested, Molly Corbett waived her right to testify. This came after her father, Martens, testified for about four and a half hours on Friday.

The only other witness called by the defence was William Cole, a former co-worker of Martens. The former coworker testified on Friday that Martens was honest, calm and deliberate.

A preliminary charge conference, which is when the court goes over what instructions will be given to the jury, was also held.

The jury will give a verdict for Martens and a verdict for Molly Corbett. The jury could convict the defendants of second-degree murder, the lesser-included offence of voluntary manslaughter, or find them not guilty.

After closing arguments, the jury will begin its deliberations.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons

Read: Molly Corbett will not testify in her own defence on Jason Corbett murder charge

Read: ‘I hit him until I thought he could not kill me’: Thomas Martens testifies at Jason Corbett murder trial

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Ben Coley

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