A retrial date for a father and daughter accused of murdering Jason Corbett remains unknown after a preliminary administrative hearing inside the same Davidson County courtroom where the two were convicted five years ago.
One year after the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld a decision to overturn Molly Martens Corbett and Thomas Martens' convictions on second-degree murder charges, both appeared Friday before Judge David Hall, who is expected to preside over a new trial. Prosecutors in Davidson County are planning to retry Jason Corbett's wife and her father and now await a second hearing set for the week of May 23.
At that hearing, the possibility remains that more could be known about when such a retrial might take place. Both Corbett and Martens are free on a $200,000 bond.
Dozens of friends and family members of both the Martens and Jason Corbett filed into the courtroom Friday, including Jason’s two children, Jack ( 17) and Sarah (15). It marked the first time either has been inside a U.S. courtroom for proceedings pertaining to their father. Their aunt, Tracey Corbett-Lynch, who maintains custody of Jack and Sarah, was on hand, along with her husband, David, and their two children who have been raised as siblings of Jack and Sarah.
At the first trial, neither Jack nor Sarah testified. Statements they made to social workers were excluded as evidence at the first trial, one of the reasons the convictions were overturned.
Both children were in the house when their father was killed. The children indicated in those initial statements to social workers that their father was emotionally and physically abusive toward Molly Corbett, though they later reportedly recanted that testimony months later while living in Ireland.
The N.C. Court of Appeals and the N.C. Supreme Court found that the exclusion of those statements prohibited the accused from making their case in claiming self defence. It has been widely speculated that either or both children could testify at the retrial.
The first trial, which began July 17, 2017 and ran for 17 days, revealed that Jason Corbett (39) was beaten to death at his home in the Meadowlands golf course community of Wallburg, North Carolina. Davidson County assistant district attorneys claimed that Molly Corbett and Martens beat Jason to death with a baseball bat and a paving stone.
Blood-spatter testimony given at trial was one of the primary focuses of the appellate courts' ruling to overturn sentences handed down in Davidson County Superior Court. Martens testified during the first trial that he beat Jason Corbett repeatedly in an attempt to save the life of his daughter and himself after he claimed he saw his son-in-law choking his daughter.
During Friday’s hearing, Hall - who was assigned to the case earlier this year as the presiding judge - addressed what he called the “tremendous amount” of news coverage the case has received over the last five years. In establishing rules for a potential retrial, Hall determined that still photography would be allowed in the courtroom, but television cameras are prohibited.
Assistant District Attorney Alan Martin said he would relay that message to all staff members and "stakeholders" in the case. Tracey Corbett-Lynch, family members of Jason, Douglas Kingsbery (Molly Corbett's attorney), Jones Byrd and Jay Vannoy (Martens' attorneys) all left the courthouse without addressing the media on hand for Friday's hearing.