The children of slain Irishman Jason Corbett delivered powerful victim impact statements after his killers received jail sentences that could see them walk free in just seven months.
Jason Corbett's wife, Molly Martens, and her father, Thomas, were sentenced to between seven and 30 months in jail for manslaughter after bludgeoning the Limerick man to death with a baseball bat and a concrete paving slab in his North Carolina home, in August 2015.
The Martens were originally jailed for up to 25 years after being convicted of second-degree murder in 2017 but were released after three-and-a-half years when the convictions were overturned.
During the recent sentencing hearing, Molly and Thomas Martens attempted to portray Corbett as a controlling bully and played videotaped interviews of Corbett's two children, Jack and Sarah, shortly after their father's death.
Jack and Sarah, who were aged ten and eight at the time of Corbett's death, said they had seen their father become angry and abusive toward Molly Martens and claimed that they had seen him hit her on occasion.
However, Jack and Sarah, now aged 19 and 17, painted a very different picture of their father in powerful victim impact statements on Wednesday, stating that they had been taught to "lie and manipulate people" by Molly Martens.
Molly Martens sobbed loudly during the statements as Jack and Sarah, who are children of Corbett's marriage with his first wife, Mags, described her as a "monster" with a "mask of civility".
The Corbett Lynch family leaving court here in Lexington after Molly Martens and her father Tom were sent back to jail today, for killing Jason Corbett. pic.twitter.com/f5U9vJyifO— Alison O’Reilly (@AlisonMaryORE) November 8, 2023
Jack Corbett's victim impact statement
In his victim impact statement, Jack Corbett said: "The first thing I want to state clearly is, I was a liar. From the age of four to ten years of age, I was taught how to lie and manipulate people by Molly Martens. During this time, I was abused by Molly Martens in every way you can imagine and then some.
"My Dad was taken from me almost nine years ago in a way no human should have to suffer through.
"Everyone I speak to about my life always says: 'Oh it must be so hard to lose a parent at such a young age.'
"I didn’t just lose a parent. I lost my biggest supporter, my teacher, my protector, my hero but most of all I lost my best friend.
"I’ve had to experience childhood, adolescence, and the beginning of adulthood without my Dad there to guide me.
"Luckily my Dad picked two wonderful parents, David and Tracey, to guide me through life.
"It hasn’t been easy but having them, and the help of my two big brothers, Dean and Adam, and my sister Sarah, made it a lot easier than it could have been.
"I never got to see him proud of me and the feeling of not having him alongside me haunts me in every dream. Every moment I walk this planet and it is so hard.
"Everyone talks about trauma and that it takes time to heal. I will never heal. Trauma leaves scars that I will carry until the day I die.
"My Dad was the most caring, funny, and gentle man you could ever meet. He could light up a room with his smile.
"I have felt lost for so long and not really ever knowing where I will end up. I have lost so much of myself. I lost my love for sport. I lost my trust in people and I have lost myself day by day year by year since the day he was taken from me.
"The bright boy and happy kid everyone used to see was buried deep inside of me and I don’t know if he will ever come out again.
"I never felt I could call someone my own since I lost my Dad. I am drowning every day in pain. When I was a young teenager, I used to think sometimes it would be easier if I wasn’t here anymore and at least that way I could be with my Dad and my Mam and apologize and feel safe."
Monster lurking underneath the exterior
He continued "Your honor, don’t be fooled by this mask of civility of Molly Martens. There is a monster lurking underneath the exterior.
"She systematically broke me down and drip-fed me untruths. I want to be clear: I had never witnessed my Dad hit Molly Martens, ever.
"I am not under duress now; I want you to look at me standing here today and know the truth.
"It is a travesty of justice that Molly Martens wasn’t charged with first-degree murder as was considered by the District Attorney.
"Molly Martens needs to be locked away for as long as possible so she cannot do this to another family, another child. It is my biggest fear and gives me nightmares. She will do it again if she finds the opportunity.
"Your honor, I hope you can see me here before you, the trauma that I have experienced and will have to live with until the day I die.
"Hearing my words being used to try to mitigate the crime committed. My words were weaponized to help Molly and Tom Martens get away with killing my Dad.
"My Dad deserved the world. He deserved to grow old and feel love from his family and get to see his kids make him proud but that was taken from him.
"I was just a kid. I hope that the people who have done this to my Dad will be held accountable and maybe then will I be able to start to heal and become the man my Dad wants me to be."
Sarah Corbett's victim impact statement
In her victim impact statement, Sarah described Jason Corbett as her "biggest supporter" and said the Martens had made her an orphan at the age of eight.
"Your honor, you know my Dad as the deceased, but he had a name. It was Jason," Sarah said on Wednesday.
"He had blue eyes, he worked really hard, he was a good golfer.
"He was my baseball coach. He was my soccer coach. He was my biggest supporter.
"He tucked me into bed at night. He made me laugh. He made me feel loved and secure.
"But most importantly he was just my Dad. Jason Corbett was my Dad. All I ever wanted was to have a father-daughter dance, I will never get that.
"He is never going to be there for me when I get my heart broken, or when I graduate. He didn’t even get to see me graduate primary school.
"He will never know I wrote a book in his honor. I will never get to tell him how much I admire him. Or how I wish I had his courage.
"He will never walk me down the aisle. He will never meet my children, his grandkids. That future was taken from us. Instead, my life is filled with anniversaries of death.
"I was 12 weeks old when my mother, Mags, died. I was eight years old when my father was killed by Molly and Thomas Martens. The Martens made me an orphan. They took away my father, my only constant, the only loving parent I had.
"Your honor, I wish that you could have met my Dad. He had this big, warm personality. He was so good to others and always tried to make other people’s lives better. When my mother died, to deal with his grief, Dad did good things to help others. I try to help others to deal with my grief.
"Sitting inside of this courtroom has been a traumatic experience. Listening to adults twist and manipulate the words I said out of fear, as an eight-year-old child, has been extremely difficult. Your honor, I would like to give you an example of how our truth is being twisted.
"When Ms Shannon Grubb testified about the park incident where I had no shoes going to school. There was no fight with my Dad. My Dad had already gone to work well before we got up for school.
"Molly had beaten Jack again and that is why I was hysterical. Molly had left Jack at home instead of bringing Jack to school too, she left in such anger she forgot my shoes.
"Your honor, her betrayal and infliction of pain continued for years. I was used by her. All I have ever been was a piece on her chess board.
"She betrayed me again and again and even shared a note I left with her, the last time I saw her. And she did all this to get publicity for her lies about my father. There was nothing I could do to stop her. I was eight years old.
"I was trying to start a new life in Ireland but she stalked me. She tried to hire a plane to fly a banner over my school in Limerick. The gardaí were called to the school. Detectives watched over us and our home for a while until her passport was taken away but it didn’t stop her trying to contact me.
"She used words I said out of fear against my Dad and my family to get out of jail, and now they are using them to get a reduced sentence. Can you try and understand the effects that can have on a girl growing up from the age of eight to 17?
"While my friends are out having fun and going to parties, I am in therapy learning how to live with the fact that I lied and helped their case. I WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD.
"I was hoping there would be a retrial so my truth and my brother’s truth could both be heard. Instead, all we have is this, a victim impact statement.
"Who is the victim here? The Martens made my pain so much worse by trying to have the world think my Dad was a bad person. The Martens used social media and television interviews to pretend Molly was the victim, not my Dad. The Martens put little clips of recordings in the media.
"No member of the Martens’ family has ever shown me any remorse. I only got betrayed. Molly and Tom Martens have used me, and words I was forced to say as an eight-year-old child, to escape the just consequences of beating my Dad to death.
"Molly took off her wedding ring almost immediately and told me to stop crying and "Get over it" in the days after he was killed.
"She took my Dad, the person I am supposed to go to when I need advice. He was supposed to teach me how to drive.
"He was supposed to watch me grow up. He was supposed to be there when I felt like nobody else was.
"The charge they now accept is voluntary manslaughter. I’ve seen my father’s bloody handprint on the door of his bedroom. There was nothing voluntary about his death.
"I know in my heart he tried to leave that bedroom. He didn’t choose to leave us; he was taken from us. HE was the victim.
"The trauma continues, every day in different ways: the sight of an ambulance brings me terror. I have panic attacks when I see them. I have to look away so I can try to breathe normally.
"I was with my friend and my mom at a concert of my favorite band, when an ambulance passed and I just broke down.
"In my job, a lady from North Carolina came in and I had a panic attack in the toilet. The female American accent can catch me off guard and send me into a state of panic. She was a lovely lady but my experiences are hard to heal from.
"While my friends are out having fun and going to parties, I am 17 years old, and in therapy learning how to live with the fact that I lied and helped the Martens escape full justice for taking my father’s life.