Molly and Thomas Martens to remain in jail until ‘mid-2024’ as US prison authorities change stance

Molly Martens and her father, Thomas, were sentenced in US to between seven and 30 months over killing of Limerick businessman Jason Corbett in 2015

Molly Martens Corbett and her father Thomas Martens are to remain in prison until next summer for the killing of Limerick man Jason Corbett, authorities in North Carolina have said.

After a day of confusion, the prison service in North Carolina said on Monday night that Martens Corbett and her father were not to be released earlier than had been anticipated.

The North Carolina department of adult corrections had said in a statement on Monday that Martens Corbett and her father would be freed from prison this week, and would spend a year under supervised probation.

In a second statement later on Monday, however, it said that “after further review, the initial projected release dates calculated in response to resentencing for Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens were found to be incorrect”.

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“The current projected release dates for both are June 27th, 2024. Corbett and Martens will be transferred to state prison facilities to complete the remainder of their sentences,” it said.

Local media in North Carolina reported that they had been moved to the jail in Davidson county near Lexington in preparation for their anticipated release this week. They will now be sent back to state prisons to finish out their sentences.

The North Carolina department of corrections did not set out in its statement how incorrect calculations for the length of the sentences came to be made.

The family of Jason Corbett in Ireland had reacted furiously on Monday to the suggestion that his wife and father-in-law, who were responsible for his death, would serve only four additional weeks in prison.

Mr Corbett was beaten to death with a baseball bat and a brick in a bedroom in his home near Winston Salem in North Carolina in August 2016.

Martens Corbett and her father had claimed self defence. Initially they had been convicted of second degree murder and served 44 months in prison, but their convictions were later quashed by an appeals court.

In October, Martens Corbett and her father agreed a plea deal with prosecutors which avoided the need for a retrial. Molly Martens Corbett did not contest a charge of voluntary manslaughter while Thomas Martens pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Following a ten-day sentencing hearing in November, the two were sent to prison for a minimum of 54 months and a maximum of 74 months.

As they had already spent 44 months in jail before an appeals court quashed their original convictions, it had been expected they would face between seven months and two and half years of additional time in jail.

The main prosecutor in the case against Martens Corbett and her father, the district attorney in Davidson county, Garry Frank, said on Monday that his office had had no input into the original decision to release Martens Corbett and her father earlier than expected.

He said under North Carolina law, an administrative body, known as Combined Records, sets out the release date for prisoners based on the committal papers submitted by the sentencing judge and issues such as the amount of time they had already spent in custody.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent