The family of Jason Corbett have written a letter to the Department of Adult Corrections and the Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, asking for an explanation and an apology after the two people responsible for his death came to be listed on a correctional facility website as due for release this week.
Molly Martens (40) and her former FBI agent father Thomas (73) were sent back to jail last month after they accepted a voluntary manslaughter plea deal for killing Limerick father-of-two Jason Corbett in August 2015.
The pair were originally convicted of second-degree murder after Jason (39) died from catastrophic head injuries after he was hit with a concrete block and a metal baseball bat at the family home in Panther Creek in North Carolina.
Their convictions were overturned on appeal when they had served 3½ years of their sentences. The pair faced a retrial. However, they took a plea deal.
On November 8th at Davidson County Court in Lexington, North Carolina, Molly Martens and her father were jailed for a minimum of seven months and a maximum of two years by Judge David Hall who had presided over the lengthy sentencing hearing.
This week, prison authorities caused distress to the family of Mr Corbett as the father and daughter were listed as being due for immediate release. However, the statement was later described as an error and the North Carolina department of adult correction said the pair would not be released until mid-2024.
Following the controversy Thomas and Molly were moved from Davidson County Jail to state prisons in North Carolina. Their mugshots have now been placed on the State Department of Corrections website.
The Corbett family have written to the governor and the department of adult corrections to express their “deep disappointment and concern” about the error which they say has caused “significant distress and upheaval”.
The relatives of Mr Corbett stress that the actions of Molly Martens and her father led to Mr Corbett’s two “beloved children” being orphaned.
“Our family has been tirelessly working towards rebuilding our fragile stability and supporting the children during these challenging times. We were in the midst of trying to process the trauma of the two-week sentencing experience just 28 days prior when news of the convicted killers’ planned release disrupted and destroyed the progress we had made.
“The events surrounding the sentencing hearing and the subsequent confusion over incorrect early release dates in North Carolina have only added to the hurt and upset that the children have already endured.
“It is disheartening that no one from the North Carolina justice system took the initiative to contact us on the day of the prison release error to offer help or support.”
The Corbett family described it as “astonishing” that the error in the early release sentence calculations was only discovered upon a second check.
“Additionally, it is our belief that if it weren’t for the efforts of the Irish media and the Justice for Jason supporters in exposing this injustice, Molly and Thomas Martens, who callously took Jason’s life and showed no remorse, would have been released after a shockingly short period of just four weeks behind bars.
“For eight long years, our family has fought tooth and nail for justice for Jason. However, the recent events have raised serious concerns about the fairness and empathy of the justice system in North Carolina.
“We have observed cases where criminals receive sentences of 20 years or more for non-fatal assaults, yet Molly and Thomas Martens, who fatally beat a helpless man to death with a brick and a baseball bat, received a mere seven-month sentence extension. This can only be described as a gross injustice. Such outcomes are simply unacceptable for the families of victims of violent crimes.”
The Corbett family say that they are determined to continue speaking out and campaigning for victims’ rights, whether it be in Ireland or the United States.
They add they are still none the wiser as to what occurred about the listing on the website.
“We have received no satisfactory explanation as to why this decision was made, despite our persistent efforts to seek detailed answers.”