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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 4 June, 2020

Jason Corbett trial: Expert says only low level of 'sleeping pill' drug present in victim

Earlier in proceedings, a juror had to be briefly excused because a graphic image made her sick.

A PHARMACOLOGIST who helped perform the drug test on Jason Corbett’s body has testified that the level of a ‘sleeping pill’ drug found in the Irishman’s system was below therapeutic level.

Speaking at the North Carolina murder trial of the wife and father-in-law of Jason Corbett yesterday, Dr Russell Patterson said therapeutic level is the range at which the drug has its intended effect.

Molly Corbett (33) and her father, Thomas Michael Martens (67) are each charged with second-degree murder in the 2015 death of Corbett’s husband, who was originally from Co Limerick.

They have entered pleas of not guilty, claiming self-defence and defence of another.

234 Molly Corbett and Thomas Michael Martens. Source: Davidson County Sheriff's Office

Earlier in yesterday’s proceedings at the Davidson County Superior Court, the chief medical examiner who performed the autopsy said that the degree of skull fractures were similar to a victim of a car crash or a fall from a great height.

Dr Craig Nelson, a licensed pathologist, testified that Jason Corbett was struck in ten areas and two other spots were areas of repeated blows. The doctor added that he can’t say exactly how many times Jason Corbett was struck or how quickly.

Nelson said one scrape on Corbett’s head occurred after his heart stopped.

During the trial, Nelson said that when he pulled back the scalp to perform the autopsy, pieces of Jason Corbett’s skull fell away. The doctor also identified fracturing of the nose, bruising on the thigh and hand and scraping on the back and neck. All of these injuries were a result of blunt force trauma, according to Nelson.


Graphic photos of Jason Corbett’s head were shown while Nelson explained the injuries to the court yesterday.

One juror had to be briefly excused because an image made her sick. The juror eventually returned and will remain on the jury.

According to the autopsy report, Jason Corbett was beaten to death with a baseball bat and a landscaping stone.

Jason Corbett suffered those injuries 2 August 2015. Davidson County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded that day to a report of an assault at the Corbetts’ home at Panther Creek Court in Wallburg.

Davidson County Sheriff’s Corporal C.S. Dagenhardt, the officer who responded to the scene, testified yesterday that he saw Jason Corbett’s naked body in the master bedroom.

He noticed puddles of blood and blood on the walls. The jury was shown graphic photos taken by Dagenhardt, including photos of the bat and paving stone.

On Tuesday, the defence objected to allowing the jury to hear Dagenhardt’s observation of the blood, arguing that he wasn’t an expert witness on blood. Superior Court Judge David Lee denied the defence’s motion.

Dagenhardt said he and another officer went upstairs to retrieve Jack and Sarah Corbett, the children of Jason Corbett.

Dagenhardt retrieved Sarah, and told her to close her eyes as he carried her down the stairs, so she wouldn’t see the blood. Dagenhardt then testified that he left Jack and Sarah in the basement with Sharon Martens, the wife of Thomas Martens. The deputy described Sharon Martens’ demeanour as “calm”.


A paramedic who responded to the incident testified that when he first arrived, Molly Corbett was performing CPR on Jason Corbett in the master bedroom.

Since the master bedroom was dimly lit, the paramedic said he requested Jason Corbett be placed on a board and taken to the ambulance.

While in the ambulance, the paramedic stated, several emergency responders worked on Jason Corbett. The paramedic said the injuries were so severe that his hand slipped into Jason Corbett’s scalp as he tried to insert a breathing tube.

After it became apparent that life-sustaining measures weren’t working, Jason Corbett was declared dead.

In addition to the graphic imagery, the topic of Trazodone was heavily discussed.

Nelson testified that Trazodone – an antidepressant, often used to treat sleep problems – was found in Jason Corbett’s system, but at a low level.

On Tuesday a nurse practitioner testified that Molly Corbett visited Kernserville Primary Care, near the couple’s home, days before Jason Corbett’s death and complained about foot pain.

The nurse prescribed 15 milligrammes of Trazodone to help her sleep.

The trial will continue today.

Related: Trial of wife and father-in-law hears of extensive damage to skull of Irishman Jason Corbett >

Read: ‘It’s a disaster area. There’s nothing left’: Wildfires rage over south-east of France >

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About the author:

Ben Coley - The Lexington Dispatch

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