The father-in-law of Jason Corbett, an Irishman killed in North Carolina in 2015, has told his trial that he found the Limerick man strangling his daughter.

Former FBI agent Thomas Martens and his daughter, Molly Martens Corbett, deny second-degree murder and have pleaded that they killed Corbett out of self-defense.

Addressing the court on the first day of the trial, Martens’ attorney David Freedman said that the 67-year-old and his wife, Sharon, arrived the day before at the Corbett’s North Carolina home. They’d brought with them a 17-ounce baseball bat they intended to give as a gift to their step grandson, Jack, but decided it was too late to do so that evening.

They went to bed but were awoken by screaming at 3 am. Martens grabbed the baseball bat, not knowing what was going on, and dashed to the top of stairs.

“All he sees is his little girl with her husband’s hands around her neck,” Freedman described.

Martens told Corbett to let her go but he said he was going to kill her. As he carried her towards the bathroom one thing went through Martens’ mind: “He thinks he may never see his little girl again,” Freedman told the jury.

It was then that he hit Jason Corbett with the baseball bat, causing him to let go of his wife.

Scared that she would die, Martens kept “whacking” him until he died.

Read more: Violent abuse claims by woman accused of killing her Irish husband in North Carolina

Prospective jurors quizzed extensively on their views on domestic violence before murder trial of Jason Corbett https://t.co/FRKdhSWB2y pic.twitter.com/VUBUrgki7v

— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) July 18, 2017

Davidson County assistant district attorney Alan Martin described the crime scene to jurors: blood was everywhere and inside law enforcement found, “the naked, dead, bloody body of Jason Corbett”.

His head, the prosecution said, was like a hard boiled egg that had been dropped on a counter.

He had also been struck at least once whilst dead, the post mortem concluded. The prosecution claim they can prove he was hit with not just a baseball bat but with a paving stone.

“Why didn’t they stop?” Martin queried.

Prospective jurors in murder trial of Jason Corbett asked if they have personal bias 'towards Ireland or Irish' https://t.co/AP63nlRmd0 pic.twitter.com/fnx3me90cH

— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) July 19, 2017

“He was more than twice the size of Molly,” a counsel for the defense responded.

Martin said that Corbett’s skull had been badly damaged but that the bodies’ of the accused showed barely any sign of struggle.

Four witnesses for the prosecution have since been called, including the 911 dispatch operator who took the 14-minute call placed in the aftermath of Corbett’s death.

Medical examiner who did autopsy on Jason Corbett on stand in Davidson murder trial - judge warned they're graphic pic.twitter.com/vbeLMm0TpE

— Bob Costner (@bobcostner) July 26, 2017

Her testimony was later ruled inadmissible after it was found to conflict with the recording of the call playing to the jury.

A nurse who treated both the Corbetts were also called, as was a pharmacist who treated Molly Corbetts.

The trial is expected to take between two to three weeks.

H/T: The Irish Times/WZII12 New

Molly Martens and her father Thomas.