Corbett children’s trust to be paid €665,000 in civil case settlement
Sister of murdered Limerick man says ruling removes his children from Martens family
Molly Martens, above, Jason Corbett’s second wife, who along with her father Thomas Martens, a retired FBI agent, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of the 39-year-old Limerick man in 2015. File photograph: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Thomas Martens – Mr Corbett’s father-in-law who is serving a 20-25 year sentence for his murder – and his wife Sharon Martens have agreed to pay $180,000 to end the civil action taken over the Irish man’s death.
A further $20,000 is being paid by the couple’s insurers State Farm as part of the settlement agreed on Monday in the civil action taken in North Carolina’s Davidson County superior court.
Life insurance funds of $601,000 – a benefit provided by Mr Corbett’s North Carolina employer currently being held by another US court – will also be released to the trust set up for his children, Jack and Sarah.
Mr Martens, a retired FBI agent, and his daughter Molly Martens, Mr Corbett’s second wife, were convicted of second-degree murder in the death of the 39-year-old man at his North Carolina home in 2015.
Mr Corbett died from head injuries after a sustained assault at the family home in the town of Wallburg.
The civil action was taken by David Lynch, executor of the estate, in 2017.
Mr Lynch and his wife Tracey Corbett Lynch, Mr Corbett’s sister, are raising his two children at their home in Limerick.
The settlement, which was signed off by North Carolina superior court Judge Richard Allen Baddour jnr, draws to a close the couple’s legal fight in the US civil courts over Mr Corbett’s death.
No wrongdoing, negligence, liability or intentional act was admitted by Mr Martens.
Ms Corbett Lynch described the settlement as “a burden lifted” and said her focus was now on her family.
“We have been through so many courts over the past three or so years to protect Jack and Sarah, and bring Jason’s murderers to justice. This decision removes us from the Martens family,” she said.
The order approving the settlement filed in court this week bears the signature of Mr Martens. Molly Martens was dismissed as a defendant to the civil action.
The judge concluded that the settlement was “fair and just and for the best interest of the estate of Jason Corbett, including the best interest of the minor children”.
The trust set up for Mr Corbett’s two children will ultimately receive about $750,000 after legal fees of $50,000 – a quarter of the settlement fees paid by Thomas and Sharon Martens and their insurer – are paid to the US lawyer David Pishko, the attorney representing Mr Corbett’s estate.
Mr Lynch has agreed to resign as trustee of the Corbett children’s trust and will be replaced by Irish accountants Grant Thornton.
Ms Corbett Lynch welcomed the appointment of an independent trustee who has “the appropriate skills to invest the funds in the children’s best interest”, she said.
“Our next step is to go over and finally be able to sort Jason’s belongings so we can hopefully retrieve some items of sentimental value to his family and children,” she said.
“We are relieved as a family to close this difficult chapter. We will now try and move forward with our lives and focus on our four children.”
Thomas Martens and Molly Martens, who is also serving a sentence of between 20 and 25 years, are appealing their convictions to North Carolina’s court of appeals.
Ms Corbett Lynch said the family would “continue to focus on ensuring those responsible for Jason’s murder remain in prison”. She said she was confident the conviction would be upheld on appeal.
The settlement of the civil action meant Mr Corbett’s children would be the sole beneficiaries of their father’s estate “regardless of any future appeals”, she said.