Molly and Thomas Martens accused of delaying 911 call to 'get story together'
Closing arguments in trial of father and daughter accused of killing her husband Jason Corbett
Molly Martens Corbett and her father are charged with second-degree murder in connection with an incident in 2015. Photograph: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
A former FBI agent accused of the murder of his son-in-law, Limerick man Jason Corbett, in the US has been accused of giving evidence that was not credible.
Molly Martens Corbett (33), and her father, Thomas Martens (67), are charged with second-degree murder in connection with an incident in the early-morning hours of August 2nd, 2015, when Mr Corbett was found beaten to death inside his home in Wallburg, North Carolina.
They have both pleaded not guilty at Davidson County Court in Lexington, North Carolina, to murder, claiming self-defence and the defence of another.
Ms Martens chose not to testify in her defence on Monday.
A voluntary manslaughter charge was included as a lesser charge for the jury to consider on Monday. Jurors can now find the defendants guilty of manslaughter, even if the offence does not rise to the level of second-degree murder.
In his closing arguments, Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Greg Brown described Mr Corbett as the father of Jack and Sarah. He recounted the testimony of David Fritzsche, a neighbour who described himself as a friend of Mr Corbett’s.
Mr Brown also addressed the testimony of Karen Capps, the operator of the emergency 911 number who testified Mr Martens was not out of breath when on the phone following the killing. “He was not out of breath after a battle for his life and for the life of his daughter,” Mr Brown said.
He said the testimony Mr Martens gave was not credible, as the codefendant said he called 911 two minutes after Mr Corbett collapsed after being hit with a bat.
“Is the claim of self-defence even true?” Mr Brown asked.
He suggested financial gains, including the Corbetts’ unmortgaged home, as possible motive for Ms Martens to commit murder.
The prosecution argued the crime scene had been staged and that Mr Corbett had been left to die.
Mr Brown also accused the defendants of waiting to call 911, so “the FBI agent could get his story together and match wits with detectives”.
Mr Brown concluded his closing arguments on Monday afternoon. The defence was expected to give its closing arguments later on Monday.
No admission of guilt
On Monday morning, Ms Martens had elected not to testify. The decision was made, she told the court, after careful consideration with her lawyers, Walter Holton and Cheryl Andrews.
In the United States, defendants maintain the right not to testify. It is not to be considered by jurors as an admission of guilt, Judge David Lee said, but rather an extension of the individual’s constitutional right to remain silent.
The proceedings followed testimony from Mr Martens, who chose last week to testify on his own behalf. After opting to take the stand, he was questioned about his relationship with Mr Corbett.
“Our relationship was as it had been for quite some time,” Mr Martens said. “We had made nice. We were superficially friendly.”
Mr Corbett and Mr Martens had planned to play golf the next day, Mr Martens testified.
Despite the alleged improvement in the relationship, Mr Brown alluded to other problems that existed between Ms Martens and her husband. Concern arose, the prosecutor said, over whether Mr Corbett would return with the children from Ireland after he was scheduled to go home for his father’s 80th birthday party.
Prosecutors also said a life insurance policy stood to pay out more than $600,000 in the death of Mr Corbett. Mr Martens said he was aware of the policy but did not recall the amount until last week.