New trial date set in Corbett killing

·2 min read

Sep. 22—DAVIDSON COUNTY — The father-daughter defendants whose 2017 murder convictions in the beating death of the woman's husband were overturned by appellate courts will go on trial again in mid-2023.

Thomas Martens, now 72, and Molly Corbett, now 38, were convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Jason Corbett, 39, Molly's husband, who was beaten to death inside his Wallburg home in August 2015. The N.C. Court of Appeals overturned the convictions in 2020, and the N.C. Supreme Court agreed in March 2021 that they deserved a new trial because the trial judge disallowed some evidence that might have supported their claims of self-defense.

On Wednesday Judge David Hall said in a hearing in Davidson County Superior Court that procedural hearings for a new trial will be held in November and January, and he set jury selection to begin June 23.

Hall said that both prosecutors and defense attorneys had tried to expedite the trial, but there were "realities that could not be overcome."

Hall previously issued a gag order preventing any parties in the case from making public comments about it, and he scolded both sides.

"There have been instances with the defense and the state who have made extrajudicial statements, some benign and others regarding facts," he said. "If it happens again, there will be a contempt hearing."

Jason Corbett was a citizen and resident of the Republic of Ireland, and the case involving his death drew extensive press coverage in Ireland.

Jason Corbett was a widower with two children, Jack and Sarah, when he hired Molly in late 2007 or early 2008 to work as an au pair in his home in Ireland. The two later became romantically involved, and they moved to the Wallburg area in 2011 and soon after were married.

Jason Corbett had been hit in the head repeatedly with an aluminum baseball bat — a medical examiner determined there were at least 12 blows. Martens admitted he did it but said that Jason Corbett was strangling Molly Corbett and saying he was going to kill her. Prosecutors contended that Martens and Molly Corbett were the aggressors and killed Jason Corbett without justification.