Jason Corbett killing: Wife and father-in-law granted bail

Molly Martens Corbett and Thomas Martens told to cease contact with Limerick children

Mugshots of accused in Jason Corbett killing, Molly Martens Corbett and her father Thomas Michael Martens. Photograph: Davidson County

Mugshots of accused in Jason Corbett killing, Molly Martens Corbett and her father Thomas Michael Martens. Photograph: Davidson County

 

The wife and father-in-law of Co Limerick man Jason Corbett charged in connection with his death in North Carolina last August were granted bail after they made their first appearances in a US court on Tuesday.

Both are charged at Davidson County Superior Court with second-degree murder and manslaughter, and each received a $200,000 (€185,000) secured bond (bail). Jason Corbett (39) died from head injuries at his home in Wallburg following what the authorities at the time described as a domestic disturbance.

Molly Martens Corbett (32) and her 65-year-old father Thomas Martens, arrived at the courthouse with nearly a dozen friends and family who provided support. The stoic Martens stood before Judge Theodore Royster, who set bail.

Outside the courtroom, Ms Martens Corbett’s uncle, Mike Earnest issued a statement on behalf of the family. He addressed the charges facing both his niece and brother-in-law.

“I’ve known Thomas for more than 44 years,” Mr Earnest said. “There are no finer people you’d care to find. Their actions of self defence were justified. While disappointed, we look forward to having the full story heard.

“They will enter pleas of not guilty. We are confident that once an impartial jury hears the full story, they will be exonerated.”

Ms Martens Corbett and Mr Martens surrendered of their own volition at the courthouse. They were brought into the District Attorney’s Office, where they were briefed by Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown. After meeting with Mr Brown, they were transported to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, fingerprinted and photographed before being brought back to the courthouse.

Judge Royster informed both Ms Martens Corbett and Mr Martens the maximum sentence for a charge of second-degree murder is 484 months (40 years) and the charge for manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 204 months (17 years).

District Attorney Garry Frank said following the hearing that Ms Martens Corbett and Mr Martens have no prior criminal charges. He said their criminal records were taken into account in the process of setting bond and would be taken into account should either be convicted.

“This will be prosecuted like any other homicide case,” Mr Frank said. “Both defendants had lawyers all summer long while the investigation was ongoing. In this country, bond is not meant to be punishment. Neither has a previous record. I thought the terms of bond were appropriate.”

Bail is contingent on several terms and conditions. Each party must surrender all passports and both agree to cease any and all contact with Mr Corbett’s immediate family, specifically his two children. Judge Royster agreed to the bail conditions and commented that it worked well when lawyers reach such an agreement.

Both of the accused remained silent during the brief court appearance. No date for trial has yet been set.

Following Mr Corbett’s death his wife initiated a custody battle for his two children which she lost. Mr Corbett had appointed his sister Tracey Lynch as guardian to his children following the death of his first wife Mags in 2006 of an asthma attack.

US courts granted custody of the children to Ms Lynch and her husband David.Mr Corbett was buried with his first wife at Limerick’s Castlemungret cemetery on August 25th last after his children arrived back in Ireland.