Update 5pm: A jury of nine women and three men has found Molly Martens Corbett and Thomas Martens guilty of second-degree murder, writes Michael Hewlett from South Carolina.
The jury deliberated for most of the morning before returning a unanimous guilty verdict just before noon.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” Molly Corbett said as she was being led away in handcuffs as the court took a brief recess. “I wish they’d just kill me.”
The family of Jason Corbett, including his sister, Tracey Lynch, broke into tears, and during the recess were exuberately happy.
Michael Earnest, Molly Martens Corbett ‘s uncle, and her mother, Sharon Martens, held their head down, as each juror was polled on their verdict.
Some of the jurors were visibly upset, wiping away tears. One juror, a woman, choked as she answered, “Yes,” to the question of whether she stood by her verdict.
Jason Corbett, 39, a plant manager for Multi Packaging Solutions, was found nude and bludgeoned to death in his home at 160 Panther Creek Court in the Meadowlands, an upscale golf-course community in Davidson County, after 3 a.m. Aug. 2, 2015.
His second wife, Molly Martens Corbett, 33, and her father, Thomas Martens, 67, a former FBI agent, were indicted in December 2015 with second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter (prosecutors later dropped the voluntary manslaughter charge but the jury considered it in its deliberation).
Davidson County prosecutors alleged a gruesome crime – that Molly Corbett, using a concrete paving brick, and Martens, using a 28-inch Louisville Slugger baseball bat, beat Jason Corbett to death in his master bedroom, crushing his skull and hitting his head at least 12 times.
But defence attorneys for Molly Martens Corbett and Martens told a different story – that of a father doing everything he could to protect himself and his daughter from being killed by an out-of-control Jason Corbett.
Martens testified during the trial that he and his wife, Sharon Martens, were asleep in the guest bedroom in the basement that morning.
The two had travelled from their home in Knoxville, Tenn., to visit their daughter and their step-grandchildren, Jack and Sarah. But Martens said he heard loud noises coming from upstairs and he grabbed the metal baseball bat he planned to give Jack the next day and went upstairs.
He opened the door to the master bedroom and saw Jason Corbett with his hands around Molly Corbett’s throat.
“Let her go,” Martens said he told Jason Corbett. Jason said, “I’m going to kill her.”
They said the same things to each other several times, each time getting louder and louder, until Martens said he had no choice but to hit Jason Corbett in the head. By this time, Martens testified, Jason Corbett had Molly in a chokehold.
The court heard the hit had no effect, and Jason Corbett dragged Molly Corbett to the hallway, then to the bathroom, where Martens said he hit Jason again, and then back to the bedroom.
Martens testified Jason Corbett was able to grab the bat with his left hand and push him across the room, where Martens lost his glasses for a moment. Then, when Molly escaped from Jason, Martens rushed Jason Corbett, got control of the bat and kept hitting him until Jason went down.
Molly Martens Corbett told investigators that she tried to hit Jason Corbett in the head with the concrete paving brick.
Prosecutors presented testimony from a multitude of EMS paramedics and sheriff’s deputies from the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office who described a bloody scene in the master bedroom. They also testified that Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens had no visible signs of injury.
Walter Holton, Molly Corbett’s attorney, said in closing arguments that investigators failed to take note of a mark on her neck and that Molly Corbett told paramedics that her throat hurt and that she had difficulty swallowing.
Dr. Craig Nelson, a medical examiner, testified that Jason Corbett was struck at least 12 times, and Stuart James, a blood-stain pattern analyst, testified that at least some of the blows to Jason Corbett’s head occurred when he was close to the ground.
Stains on Molly Martens Corbett pyjama pants and Martens’ boxer shorts suggest that they were above and over Jason Corbett’s head when some of the blows occurred.
The case has garnered national and international attention.
A protracted child custody case erupted soon after Jason Corbett died. Molly Corbett, who had unsuccessfully tried to adopt the children while her husband was alive, fought for legal guardianship of the children.
The children’s aunt, Tracey Lynch, opposed the move and eventually won guardianship. Jack and Sarah now live in Ireland with Tracey Lynch and her husband, David Lynch, who is the executor of Jason Corbett’s estate.
Prosecutors said Molly Corbett’s desire to adopt the children was part of the motive for the killing. They also pointed to a $600,000 life insurance policy that Jason Corbett had as a possible motive. They alleged that Martens hated Jason Corbett, pointing to testimony from a former co-worker of his at Oak Ridge Laboratory’s Office of Counterintelligence, where Martens worked for eight years.
Molly Martens Corbett and her father Thomas will face at least 12 years in prison with prosecutors looking for lengthier sentences.
Earlier: Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens have been found guilty of the second degree murder of Limerick man Jason Corbett.
The jury in the trial in the US returned their verdict in the last half hour.
The 39-year- old was found beaten to death in the bedroom of their home in North Carolina two years ago.
The pair had claimed they acted in self defence in fear for their lives.
More as we get it…