DEFENCE LAWYERS FOR Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens filed a motion today seeking a new trial in the 2015 death of Irish man Jason Corbett.
The 42-page motion was filed exactly a week after a panel of 12 jurors — nine women and three men — found Molly Corbett and Martens each guilty of second-degree murder.
The motion alleges that post-trial, voluntary media interviews and social media posts by the jurors shows misconduct throughout the trial that violates North Carolina law and Constitutional protection.
The document lists several examples of alleged misconduct by the jurors. The motion says “private” conversations were held between the jurors prior to closing arguments, opinions were formed about Molly Corbett’s character outside the evidence presented in the trial, opinions were formed regarding Molly Corbett as the “aggressor” outside the evidence presented, truthful answers were not provided regarding some jurors’ ability to serve on the jury, opinions were expressed by jurors during evidence presentation and additional juror comments indicated bias.
Jason Corbett death
Jason Corbett, Molly Corbett’s husband, died on 2 August, 2015. Davidson County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report that day of an assault at the Corbetts’ home at Panther Creek Court in Wallburg.
Martens, a 67-year-old retired FBI agent who was visiting the Corbetts with his wife, told authorities he was awakened by an argument between his daughter and son-in-law and went to their bedroom with a baseball bat, where he found Jason Corbett attacking his daughter.
Martens and Molly Corbett claimed Jason Corbett was choking Molly Corbett and threatening to kill her, and they acted in self defence. Investigators did not believe that explanation.
Authorities said Jason Corbett was planning to leave Molly Corbett — his second wife and former nanny to his children — and return to his home country of Ireland.
On 9 August, a jury decided that they did not act in self defence and found them both guilty of second-degree murder. Both were sentenced to between 20 and 25 years in prison by Superior Court Judge David Lee.
In regard to private conversations, the motion uses a quote by Tom Aamland, the jury foreman, in response to the impact of the prosecution’s closing argument.
“We felt which way we were going to go I believe individually before the closing arguments,” Aamland is quoted as saying in the motion. “We didn’t discuss a verdict, but in having private conversations everybody — we could read that everybody was going in the same direction, just the level of severity. Nobody voted not guilty.”
The motion says the use of “we” in the statement indicates private conversations before closing arguments, which the defence lawyers allege is in violation of directions from the court.
The document later states that Aamland and another juror, Nancy Perez, conducted television interviews which revealed they closely monitored the behavior of Molly Corbett during the trial even though it was Molly Corbett’s constitutional right not to take the witness stand.
Aamland is quoted as saying, “I believe she can control her personalities, whether it’s bipolar or whatever”.
Perez is quoted as saying, “I think Molly is a person that has not been ever held accountable for any actions whatsoever. I think Molly was Daddy’s princess, just like every girl is in Daddy’s eyes. I feel like Molly was very manipulative.”
The lawyers allege these quotes indicate the jurors formed opinions outside evidence in the trial and violated Molly Corbett’s Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
During other interviews, the document says that Aamland and two other jurors described a theory that Molly Corbett was the “aggressor” by striking her husband first with the paving stone while he was asleep in the bed. The motion says the theory violates the findings of the court that Molly Corbett was not the aggressor, as agreed by the prosecution, and that evidence at the trial did not support Molly Corbett being the aggressor.
The motion then says Perez provided a “less than candid” answer about her ability to serve on the jury. Early in the trial, when gruesome photos were shown of Jason Corbett’s autopsy, Perez left the room and almost vomited. The defence made a motion to remove Perez from the trial, but Perez indicated she became sick due to not having breakfast, and that she could continue in the trial.
But in an interview after the trial, the document indicates that Perez said she became ill due to the graphic nature of the photos, which the lawyers allege is inconsistent with what she said before.
The motion then alleges bias from Perez, pointing to to a post she made on social media on 10 August.
In the post, Perez stated, “i spoke on how delusional she is, how daddy and sharon enabled this non human person. how. everything that comes.from.her mouth is a lie..how so many lies were.told the martens.don’t know what the truth is..how Sharon sat in court and did crossword puzzles for the last 3 weeks, how this family is utter disgust.. how tom is an arrogant piece of bleep.. that.was OUat… that was outwitted by the people of ireland and davidson county.”
The motion also included Perez stating, “I believe not once in his mind did he think oh Davidson County, po-dunk town, would even question his 40 years of FBI experience. I feel like he thought he could outwit Davidson County, and Davidson County outwit the Martens.”
The lawyers say during jury selection, potential jurors were asked if Martens’ FBI experience would make it hard to be nonbiased and no juror expressed any bias toward the FBI. The motion suggests that the comments made by Perez call into question her ability to serve on the jury.
David Freedman, one of Martens’ lawyers, declined to comment on the motion. Freedman said he expects the next step is for the prosecution to file a response.
Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank said he is aware of the motion, and also stated he is never surprised by motions filed by the defence.
“We don’t believe this motion has any merit, and we’ll review it thoroughly and look at any allegations and take the appropriate steps,” Frank said.
Frank said there would possibly be a hearing scheduled regarding the motion, but he added that it would be decided by the judicial official who reviewed the document.
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