Prosecutors in the murder trial which followed the killing of Jason Corbett have filed a submission to Davidson County Court to dismiss a request by the defendants' lawyers for a retrial.
Molly Martens Corbett (33), and her father, Thomas Martens (67), were found guilty of the second degree murder of her husband, Limerick man Jason Corbett (39) in 2015.
On August 9th the pair were sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison.
On Wednesday, August 16th, lawyers for the pair filed to have the verdict struck out and a retrial held over allegations of jury bias and misconduct.
On Monday, the Davidson County district attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, filed court papers to request that the judge deny the defendants’ petition for a retrial.
The court motion argued there was no admissible evidence to suggest jurors had been influenced by factors outside of the courtroom and said the motion for a retrial was based on “assertions and speculation”.
Lawyers for Martens Corbett and her father claim social media posts and media interviews given by members of the jury after the trial indicate they were biased against the pair.
In posts on Facebook the day after the verdict, jury foreman Tom Aamland had said: “We didn’t believe Mr Martens’s story… we believe Jason was asleep when he was struck in the head by Molly”.
The attorneys said a Facebook post by another member of the jury, Nancy Perez, after the trial described Martens Corbett as “delusional” and a “non-human person”.
Lawyers for the convicted pair also stated two jurors may have discussed the trial during a conversation in a car before the jury had reached a verdict.
Judge David Lee instructed jurors not to speak about the trial among themselves outside of the jury deliberation room.
The prosecution lawyers’ court papers stated the allegations of jury misconduct based on “two jurors sitting in a car having an unknown conversation during an evening recess ... is wholly incompetent and irrelevant”.
The lawyers for the state argued that as the content of the purported conversation was not overheard, there was no evidence to justify bringing the incident before the court.
Their submission also said that jury opinions of Molly Martens Corbett and her father were formed through each juror’s own thought processes, based on what they observed in court.
“Internal opinions formed during the course of the trial do not reflect any prior bias,” the document stated.
The defence lawyers had also claimed juror Nancy Perez should not have been permitted to remain on the jury after she vomited while viewing images of Jason Corbett’s autopsy.
The district attorney’s submission asking the judge to deny a retrial stated the court’s decision had been to allow the juror to remain, and “at no time did the juror appear incapacitated even when viewing multiple gruesome photographs” following the incident. “This allegation of juror misconduct is without merit,” the court papers stated.
The date for the hearing on the motion to hold a retrial has not yet been set, and the judge may dismiss the motion out of hand, or hear oral arguments from the prosecution and the defendants’ lawyers before making a decision.
The motion for a retrial is not an appeal against the verdict. An appeal is also under way.