The wife and father-in-law of Co Limerick man Jason Corbett entered pleas of not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in a US court on Wednesday.
Molly Martens Corbett (32), and her father, Thomas Martens (65) - a former FBI agent - were charged last month and were each given bail on a $200,000 (€185,000) bond.
Jason Corbett (39), died at his home in Wallburg, North Carolina, on August 2nd last year from head injuries allegedly inflicted with a baseball bat and paving stone following what authorities described at that time as a domestic disturbance.
Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown requested Superior Court Judge Mark E Klass to issue a court order to obtain copies of Mr Martens' personnel file from the FBI. Mr Brown said prosecutors and the defence tried unsuccessfully to procure the records and both consented to the release of the information. Judge Klass granted the order, which obliges the FBI to disclose the file.
David Freedman, Mr Martens' attorney, said he considers transparency regarding his client's career beneficial.
“Mr Martens has had a long and illustrious career,” Mr Freedman said. “We want to get his records from the FBI, as well. He’s had training in self defence over the years, so it will show part of his training in self defence and I think it will show he had a stellar career. At the time of this incident, he was a private contractor with the Department of Energy in Oak Ridge (Tennessee). So, he continued to be a federal employee and had top security clearance throughout the whole process.”
Walter Holton, Ms Martens Corbett's lawyer, made an application to subpoena records from the Department of Social Services in Davidson and Union counties. He did not disclose why the records were requested.
Mr Brown reiterated to Judge Klass the serious nature of the charges and said the state had provided more than 5,000 pages of discovery. “The state has given notice to the defendants in this particular matter aggravating factors that the state would intend to offer. That would be ... that the offence was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel,” he said.
Mr Holton said Ms Martens Corbett and her father are adhering to the bond requirement not to contact members of Jason Corbett's family, including his children, Jack and Sarah. He further stated his hope witnesses are protected from badgering in the case. He said the case lent itself to "high emotions," and he wanted to make sure no witnesses or potential witnesses are being threatened or intimidated by email or social media.
The next tentative court date is set for April 4th.
Following Mr Corbett’s death Ms Martens Corbett 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.