AFTER SUPERIOR COURT Judge David Lee gave specific instructions yesterday afternoon, 12 jurors were sent to the deliberating room to decide the fate of Thomas Martens and Molly Martens-Corbett.
The jury began deliberating at about 3.30pm (8.30pm in Ireland) and the court was adjourned at 5pm (10pm Irish time), but the jurors continued their discussions into the morning. The jury will have to consider over 20 witness testimonies and 200 pieces of evidence. Investigators have cast doubt on that defence. Authorities say Corbett was planning to leave Martens-Corbett — his second wife and former nanny to his children — and return home to Ireland.
Deliberations began after three hours of closing arguments by both sides yesterday morning. Defence lawyers for Martens questioned the totality of evidence and claimed Martens was an unwilling participant in Corbett’s death, while the prosecution claimed Martens was dishonest during his testimony. Jones Byrd, a lawyer for Martens, said the state’s evidence confirms what Martens said on the witness stand. This includes much of the testimony of Stuart James, the blood spatter analyst who said the first impact came at the bed and that the spatters came from the bedroom and not the hallway. Byrd emphasised that transfer blood stains on the chest area of Martens’ red polo shirt confirmed another part of Martens’ testimony. “That is consistent with Jason Corbett catching the bat and pushing him across the room, certainly doesn’t contradict it,” Byrd said. Byrd then questioned why the jury didn’t see the full recordings of detectives interviewing Martens or Martens-Corbett or why the detectives didn’t testify. “[James] has been paid good money by the state of North Carolina and he couldn’t be bothered to ask for EMT reports?,” Byrd asked. Byrd repeated that James did not see a photo of Martens wearing the boxers, which James said is usually the best practice. Instead, Byrd said, James just saw photos of Martens four hours later at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. The defence lawyer also said that pictures of Martens’ hands weren’t taken until he was at the Sheriff’s office, and claimed blood could’ve been wiped off before that time. He said if Martens’ hands were important a witness would have testified about how Martens’ hands appeared at the incident. Byrd later said there is no evidence that the indentations on the wall happened the night of the incident, citing that no pieces of drywall were collected for evidence.
“What else have they not seen?” Byrd asked. “What else did they miss?” Freedman said the prosecution wants the jury to believe that Martens snapped. But Freedman reminded the jury of a report from a nurse practitioner two weeks before the incident that said Corbett reported dizziness and fainting, wasn’t taking his thyroid medication and felt stressed and angry for no reason. Freedman claimed the report proves Corbett snapped, not Martens. “You don’t have to believe me,” Freedman said. “Listen to Jason Corbett.” In response to the dry blood and cool body claims, Freedman said Dr Craig Nelson, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified that no conclusions can be drawn from dry blood or the cool body.
Martin said Martens and Martens-Corbett “beat the skin off his skull”. He added that they didn’t just kill Corbett, stating: “They overkilled him.” “They turned it into something that looks like a bad humpty dumpty cartoon,” Martin said. Throughout his statement, Martin banged the bat and brick against the prosecution’s table to demonstrate the force of impact from both objects. The prosecutor reminded the jury that at least four of the impacts were while Corbett was unconscious. “How much force does it take to split flesh all the way to the skull?,” Martin asked as he banged a baseball bat against a table. Martin later said it took “I-hate-you force”. Martin said it’s the prosecution’s job to find malice. The prosecutor continued by stating malice sounds like Martens constantly stating his dislike for Corbett and sounds like Martens Corbett wanting a divorce and the children.“[Malice] feels like ‘I hate him, and I want those kids’,” Martin exclaimed, as he banged the brick against a table. Martin then broke down Martens’ testimony, citing parts he said weren’t believable. He claimed that Martens enjoyed “matching wits” with other law enforcement, like he did in the FBI. The prosecutor later said Martens claimed no knowledge of the brick to protect his daughter. He also recalled parts of Martens’ testimony where he paused before answering. “If he can’t get away with ambiguity, then his memory just fails him,” Martin said. Martin then questioned why Sharon Martens, Martens’ wife, wasn’t involved. In regard to Sharon Martens, the prosecutor said: “It’s like she vanished from the face of the earth in Martens’ testimony.” After going over Martens’ testimony, Martin focused on Martens-Corbett, who he argued had motive to assault Corbett. Martin reminded the jury that tissue fragments from Corbett were found on his wife’s pyjamas. He also suggested that, even though trazodone didn’t have an effect on Corbett, it is possible Martens-Corbett attempted to drug him but failed. The prosecutor switched to testimonies that stated Martens Corbett was rubbing her neck, which he believed was another sign of dishonesty. “It might get a first grader out of school, but it ought not to get Molly Corbett out of murder,” Martin said. In response to the defence’s claims that evidence wasn’t sufficient, Martin said the defence wants “a perfect case with perfect evidence”, which he argued was an impossible standard. Martin ended his two-hour closing argument by stating that Corbett did not have to die. “You have a duty to return a verdict that will deliver justice for Jason,” Martin said.
JURORS recoiled in shock yesterday as a prosecutor smashed the baseball bat used to kill Jason Corbett against a table. ‘What kind of force does it take to crush a man’s skull?’ Alan Martin asked them.
‘It takes “I hate you” force,’ he said, striking the bat loudly. Mr Martin made his dramatic re-enactment during a powerful closing speech, before the jury in the case retired to consider their verdict.
During his speech, Mr Martin showed one photo of Mr Corbett taken before his death and one of his bloodied body afterwards. ‘This is how they left him,’ he said, and pointing at Molly Martens added: ‘She killed him with the brick.’ He then pointed at her father Tom and said: ‘He killed him with the baseball bat.’
Earlier, Mr Martin said the
defence had said Ms Martens was ‘not afraid of the evidence’ but he said she should be. ‘If she isn’t afraid of the evidence and isn’t afraid of your verdict then she hasn’t been paying attention,’ he added.
Evidence had shown, he said, that Mr Corbett had received at least ten blows to the head. In two areas there were multiple blows and an expert witness wasn’t able to say exactly how many.
At least one blow was delivered after he had died.
Using the bat to demonstrate force, Mr Martin struck it violently off the table. ‘What kind of force does it take to split flesh all the way to the skull?’ he asked jurors.
He then hit the table with the bat repeatedly, with increasing force each time. Gasps were audible in the public gallery as the sound of the bat clashing with the table rang out in court.
He said that the force used had ‘ripped the flesh off the bone’.
And he said scalp tissue had been found embedded in the brick recovered from the scene, rather than hair, meaning it was used to strike Jason Corbett.
The DNA of both belonged to Jason Corbett. Molly Martens, he said, had ‘little bits of Jason’ all over her pyjamas in the form of human tissue stains that had been examined by experts. ‘That puts her right in the thick of it,’ he said.
Throughout the struggle, which was described as a ‘fight for her life’, a delicate bracelet, on one of her wrists, remained totally intact.
The only evidence of strangulation was her saying to a paramedic that her throat was sore.
‘In some houses that story might get a first grader out of school, but it will not get Molly off murder,’ said Mr Martin. He added that she said in a statement that ‘she couldn’t remember’ if her father had said anything when he came into the room, but this was not credible.
Tom Martens had said he repeatedly told Jason to ‘let his daughter go’. And the prosecutor reminded jurors that she had been prescribed Trazodone three days before the killing and had Mojitos that night, which Jason Corbett had drank.
He said most of Tom Martens’ testimony on Friday was simply not credible, and he accused Mr Martens of delaying a call he made to 911 and faking CPR.
He said in Tom Martens’ mind, Jason Corbett was ‘beneath him’ and that he was the ‘greater’ person. He didn’t think Jason was good enough for his daughter and he had told her to get a divorce. This established malice. And malice, in Molly’s case, sounded like, ‘I want a divorce but I want his kids’, he said. Mr Martin said that from the outset, Tom Martens had endeavoured to ‘outfox’ investigators, and he had carefully scripted and rehearsed his testimony to match the forensic evidence from the scene. His FBI training and experience of crimescene investigations had equipped him with the skills to do so.
Mr Martin said Tom Martens had expertly organised his testimony to ensure Mollly was protected, to protect himself as much as he could from a murder charge, and if necessary, be as vague as he could or ‘leave it out’, so his answers would match the evidence.
He said that the only truth to be found in Mr Martens’ testimony was the level of disdain he had for Jason Corbett. And Mr Martin said Mr Martens’ wife Sharon, who was also present in the house on the night of the killing, had ‘vanished off the face of the earth’ in her husband’s testimony. He alleged she had been strategically left out of the story because getting Molly and himself to stick to the same version was hard enough. ‘One person keeping a story straight that isn’t the truth is awfully tough’, he said. ‘Two people is even harder... Three people is damn near impossible. So we gotta get Sharon out of the picture. We gotta go from three to two.’ Mr Martin argued that the delay in time that it took for Mr Martens to call 911 was because he was downstairs telling his wife that she ‘didn’t see or hear anything’.
So effective were his instructions that when an officer opened the door to the downstairs basement, where Sharon was allegedly sleeping, she said, ‘Is everything okay?’
‘Does anyone know a grandmother on the planet who would respond in that way?’ asked Mr Martin. He said it was incredulous to believe that with all the banging, thumping and fighting upstairs Sharon Martens heard nothing. ‘The super spy is trying to outwit you,’ he said of Tom Martens.
In concluding, Mr Martin said Jason Corbett did not have to die. ‘His children did not have to become orphans,’ he said, standing over Molly Martens. ‘He didn’t have to die that brutal and savage death at the hands of the woman he came to America for. ‘He didn’t have to die at the hands of his father-in-law. His kids didn’t have to go back to Ireland without their daddy. You have a duty to deliver a verdict that says Jason didn’t have to die. Justice for Jason.’