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US attorney general to appeal decision to grant Jason Corbett killers a re-trial

The 39 year-old was murdered in his US home in August 2015.

Molly and Tom Martens
Molly and Tom Martens

A US ATTORNEY General will appeal a court ruling allowing a father and daughter convicted of the murder of Limerick man Jason Corbett to be re-tried.

39 year-old Jason Corbett was murdered in his US home in Wallburg, North Carolina, on 2 August, 2015 while he slept.

Molly Martens Corbett (36) and her father Tom (70), a retired FBI agent with 30 years experience, were convicted of the business executive’s death by a US court in August 2017.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed self-defence was the reason behind their actions. Both are serving 20 to 25-year jail terms in high security prisons in the US.

The North Carolina Attorney General Joshua H Stein, has filed a motion to the Supreme Court of North Carolina to stay a Court of Appeal decision to grant them a re-trial last week.

Lawyers for the pair said they did not get a fair trial, and that the trial judge had excluded critical evidence in their case that would have corroborated their clients’ claims.

This included information which they said might have explained Thomas Martens’ state of mind on the night of the murder.

They also argued that statements that Corbett’s children had given to social workers should have been allowed as evidence.

In the Court of Appeal ruling, the three judges described the original ruling as “deceptively simple”, boiling down to whether the defendants lawfully used deadly force to defend themselves and each other during the altercation.

“Having thoroughly reviewed the record and transcript, it is evident that this is the rare case in which certain evidentiary errors, alone and in the aggregate, were so prejudicial as to inhibit defendants’ ability to present a full and meaningful defence,” the court ruled.

The judges also found that “the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the aggressor doctrine as to Tom, given the absence of evidence to support such an instruction”.

A Corbett family spokesperson said: “In essence [this] is a motion to temporarily halt the effect of the opinion of the appeals court decision on the 4 February 2020.

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“In the absence of a temporary stay being granted, Molly Martens and her father would be entitled to proceed to trial court.

“The Attorney General intends to file a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court based on Judge Collins’ dissent within fifteen days of the Court of Appeal’s mandate.

“We are grateful for his decision. Thank you for your continued support.”

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Sarah Slater

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