Jason Corbett head injuries like those seen after ‘car crashes’
Juror became ill after seeing picture from time of Limerick man’s postmortem
Dr Craig Nelson, an associate chief medical examiner with the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office, was giving evidence in the trial of Mr Corbett’s former wife Molly Martens and father-in-law Thomas Martens for his murder.
Photographs of the body of the Limerick native at the time of his postmortem were shown to jurors at Davidson County Courthouse in Lexington on Wednesday.
Dr Nelson said he carried out the postmortem which found blunt force trauma was the cause of death. He said he identified 10 different areas of impact to Mr Corbett’s head, two of which sustained “multiple blows.”
“The degree of skull fractures in this case are kinds we would see in falls from great heights or car crashes,” he said.
As Dr Nelson described the wounds on Mr Corbett’s head, one juror became physically ill and had to temporarily leave the room.
Defence attorneys made a motion to excuse the juror from the trial, but the judge denied the request after she indicated she could continue.
Ms Martens and Mr Martens are charged with second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in connection with an incident on August 2nd, 2015 after which Mr Corbett (39) was found beaten to death inside his home in Wallburg, North Carolina. They have both pleaded not guilty to those charges, claiming they acted in self-defence.
David Freedman, an attorney representing Mr Martens in the case, stated for the record the photograph at which the juror observed at the time of her reaction was the single exhibit to which the defence made objection earlier in the day.
In answer to questions from Mr Freedman, Dr Nelson indicated he did not know when Mr Corbett would have become incapacitated, which blow would have rendered him incapacitated or the sequence in which the blows came.
Mr Freedman attempted to address the absence of the blonde hair Mr Corbett was said to be clutching at the time of investigation.
Walter Holton, for Ms Martens, suggested in his opening statement that a photograph taken by detectives would prove he was clutching a hair or hairs when he was discovered.
Dr Nelson said some law enforcement jurisdictions in North Carolina bag the hands to preserve any evidence. Mr Corbett’s hands were not bagged and fingernail clippings were not preserved, he said.
Mr Holton asked Dr Nelson if he personally oversaw the preservation of Mr Corbett’s fingernail clippings. Dr Nelson said he does not typically bag nail clippings unless asked to do so. He did confirm there was blood under Mr Corbett’s fingernails.