Martens Corbett lawyers seek retrial over ‘jury misconduct’
Papers allege social media posts are evidence of bias against wife of Jason Corbett and her father
Lawyers for Molly Martens Corbett and Thomas Martens, who were jailed last week for the murder of Irish man Jason Corbett, have filed for a retrial, alleging jury misconduct and bias.
Martens Corbett (33), who was married to the Limerick native (39), and her father (67) were found guilty of second-degree murder at Davidson County Court in North Carolina. They were sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison.
In papers lodged on Wednesday, the lawyers claim social media posts and media interviews by members of the jury after the trial indicate they were biased against Martens Corbett.
They allege jury members held “private conversations” discussing theories on the case before retiring to deliberate on a verdict.
In an interview on US TV network ABC following the verdict, jury foreman Tom Aamland said several members believed Martens Corbett had struck Mr Corbett with a brick while he was asleep, and that she had a mental health condition.
“I believe she can control her personalities, whether it’s bipolar of whatever,” Mr Aamland said.
In posts on Facebook the day after the verdict, Mr Aamland said “we didn’t believe Mr Martens 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”.
“Everything that comes from her mouth is a lie…Tom is an arrogant piece of beep,” she wrote.
Martens Corbett did not testify in the case, and neither the defence or the prosecution attorneys presented any evidence to the jury regarding her mental health.
The defence lawyers call for a retrial also incldued a claim that no argument was presented in court to suggest Martens Corbett struck her husband while he was sleeping.
During the trial judge David Lee told the jury members not to discuss the case or form their opinions on the evidence until the prosecution and defence had concluded their cases.
The defence lawyers also cited the jury foreman’s statements outside the court following the verdict.
“We felt which way we were going to go I believe individually before the closing arguments. We didn’t discuss a verdict, but in having private conversations everybody - we could read that everybody was going in the same direction.”
The social media posts, quotes from members of the jury in media articles, and transcripts from the court were filed as exhibits in the defence’s case to have the guilty verdict set aside.
“The jurors’ public comments clearly indicates a violation of the constitutional protection for a fair and impartial jury by ‘private conversations’ among certain jurors prior to closing arguments,” the lawyers said.
“The jurors’ opinions regarding Mrs Corbett’s role as an ‘aggressor’, her manipulative character and ‘personalities’ clearly derived from facts not in evidence.”
The Davidson County Court will hold a hearing on the motion for a retrial, the date for which has not yet been set.