The family of slain Limerick man, Jason Corbett, have said they are “devastated” after learning his killers, Molly Martens and her father Tom Martens, have been offered a “manslaughter” plea bargain deal which could see them released on bail before the weekend.
Speaking from North Carolina where she received the “bombshell” news during a meeting with Garry Frank, District Attorney, Davidson County, Mr Corbett’s sister, Tracey Lynch, said: “We are just devastated, shocked, we just can’t believe it to be quite honest, we did not think it was going to go this way.”
Mr Frank successfully prosecuted Molly (37) and Tom (71) in 2017 on second degree murder charges, but, Ms Lynch said she feels like “the DA has let (Molly) and her father get away with murder”.
According to Ms Lynch, the US father and daughter who beat her brother to death with a metal baseball bat and a concrete paving slab, will be granted bail if they apply for it, and that this could happen as soon as today.
“They are in two large prisons in North Carolina, so they are being transferred from Raleigh to Lexington on Thursday, to a correctional facility located next to a courthouse, so I would expect that this is where they will apply for bail,” Ms Lynch said.
“If they apply for bail — and they will be granted bail, the DA told us that, which is quite shocking, but they will be entitled to receive bail on a bond. If they don't take the plea then they are probably out on a bail bond until any retrial, and if they take the plea perhaps they are out for a weeks freedom and finish out whatever agreement is made in terms of the remaining time they (may) have to serve.”
The Martens' 2017 convictions for Mr Corbett’s second-degree murder, in August 2015, were recently quashed and a retrial was granted after the courts ruled that, the exclusion of certain evidence and erroneous inclusion of other evidence in the original trial had prevented the Martens from presenting a full and meaningful defence.
However, if they now accept the plea deal which has been communicated by DA Frank to their attorneys, they will not face a retrial. Ms Lynch said she fears they could both be immediately released on bail.
“They both have a week to decide if they want to take the plea. There are three different scales of law here, so (the DA) is downgrading (the offence) to manslaughter, and offering them between 80 and 104 months, but it could actually be from 67 months, and they have 44 months already served,” she said.
“That’s what they have been offered for Jason’s life. They could potentially be free within a year or so. I’d expect they will apply for bail tomorrow or perhaps early next week.”
After becoming a nanny to his two young children Jack and Sarah, Molly Martens, (37), went on to marry Mr Corbett, whose first wife and the children’s mother, Margaret, passed away following an asthma attack.
The Martens, who have served almost four years of their 20-25 year jail sentences, persist in claiming they acted in self-defence, despite their trial hearing evidence they beat him while he slept.
Tom Martens claimed he found Mr Corbett choking Molly, but their trial heard evidence from police and paramedics who attended the killing scene, that there were no visible marks on their bodies.
“I met the DA, Garry Frank on Friday, last week, and the children met him and he outlined he was considering offering a plea, and we were shocked, and we expressed our opposition to that, and he said he would interview the kids and make his final decision after that — And he did, and the feedback was that it was very strong, the children’s evidence was very strong, and yet he is still offering a plea,” said a frustrated Ms Lynch.
“I met him again today. He didn't really me give a reason, but they did explain that there are other victim’s families that haven't had their day in court yet, and Covid is an issue, and there are about 20 other cases pending, which I absolutely can relate to and empathise with, because I know what it’s like losing somebody and not having control around the decisions that are made around the worst moment in anybody’s life.
“He said he has to consider these other people, and the issue with Covid, and that the court hasn't sat in a while.”
“I just can’t understand it. They have far more evidence now, after meeting the children, and I believe a far stronger case as well,” added Ms Lynch.