The family of Limerick man Jason Corbett, who was killed by his wife and father-in-law in the United States in 2015, has revealed that his killers have been offered a "manslaughter" plea deal by prosecutors.
Jason Corbett's sister Tracey Corbett Lynch says that her family is shocked at the "bombshell" news that Molly Martens and her father Thomas, who were convicted in 2017 of the second-degree murder of Corbett, could be offered a plea deal and released on bail.
Arguing that they did not receive a fair trial and certain evidence was excluded, the initial convictions of the father and daughter were recently quashed and they were granted a retrial. However, if they accept a plea deal, Molly and Thomas Martens would not have to face retrial and could be released on bail.
Lynch said: “They [the Martens] 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.
“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 week's freedom and finish out whatever agreement is made in terms of the remaining time they (may) have to serve.”
"That’s what they have been offered for Jason’s life," Lynch said on Wednesday. "They could potentially be free within a year or so. I’d expect they will apply for bail tomorrow or perhaps early next week."
In a scathing statement shared on social media on March 31, Tracey and David Lynch, who are now the legal guardians of Corbett's two teenage children Sarah and Jack, said in part: “We are devastated that the District Attorney for Davidson County has decided to offer a plea deal and not seek a retrial of Tom and Molly Martens who admitted killing Jason Corbett, leaving his children, then aged 10 and eight, orphaned.
"What does it say for justice in North Carolina that you can drug a father of two, then beat him to death with a baseball bat and a paving brick, literally crush his skull, and still escape a murder conviction?"
The statement added: "The simple truth is Molly Martens killed Jason Corbett to get his children. Today the District Attorney for Davidson County has let her and her father get away with murder.”
STATEMENT BY TRACEY CORBETT LYNCH AND DAVID LYNCH, LEGAL GUARDIANS OF JASON CORBETT’S CHILDREN, JACK AND SARAH. “We...Posted by Jason's Journey on Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Jason's daughter Sarah said on Twitter that the "only abuse in our home was by Molly Martens:"
Jason's son Jack said on Instagram that "My fathers life was worth more than a few years in prison:"
View this post on Instagram
Molly and Tom Martens claim they were acting in self-defense when they killed Jason Corbett on August 2, 2015. Tom said that he discovered Corbett choking Molly and that he acted to save her life. However, their original trial heard testimony from police and paramedics who said that there was no evidence of strangulation on her body.
In 2017, the Martens were sentenced to 20 - 25 years in prison for second-degree murder.
Molly and Thomas Martens appealed the original convictions on the basis that they did not get a fair trial because the judge had excluded evidence that would have supported their claims that they acted in self-defense. They said that evidence given by Corbett's children to social workers should have been included as evidence.
In February 2020, the North Carolina Court of Appeal ruled that both Molly and Thomas Martens were entitled to a retrial, while the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's decision in January 2021.