Molly Martens Corbett
I have discussed a lot of cases that involve mental illness lately. Then again I do not think that is all that unusual in the types of cases that I generally blog about. I think most of us would agree that to commit most of the crimes that I discuss here one would not be the typical “normal” person. The difference here is that no one on either side brought it up. Whether that is because cases that use mental illness as a defense are not very successful is unclear. The other issue could be that while Molly Martens Corbett sat in one defense chair, her father sat in another. Their defense attorney's almost had to work together to come up with what they believed to be a believable story. It would be difficult to say when there was ample evidence that they were both involved in the murder of Molly's husband, Jason, that one of them was mentally ill while the other was not.
Molly Martens and Jason Corbett met in 2008 when Molly traveled to Ireland from Tennessee and Jason hired her to be an au pair (a Nanny here in America) to his two children. Jason's first wife had recently died suddenly of an asthma attack. By 2011 the two were a couple and they moved to the states where they were married in Tennessee and then later moved to North Carolina. By all account Molly was devoted to Jason's children, Jack and Sarah and had a strong desire to adopt them as her own but apparently Jason was reluctant to do so, likely thinking it would feel like erasing their mother.
While it was often described that the couple were wealthy in some manner, even their home was in what was called “an upscale golf-course community” I was really clear on what they did. Jason was described as an “Irish businessman” and that was about all I could determine. Something else that was unclear was the social status of the couple. I did not hear of anything about friend for either of them describing their behavior or personalities. This seems odd to me, especially on the part of Jason because in court the defense would describe HIM as the one who was out of control, “diagnosed with depression” and a few weeks before his murder he allegedly told a “health-care worker” that he was stressed and getting angry for no reason. The defense wanted to introduce statements made by the children to a social worker where they allegedly said that Jason was physically and emotionally abusive towards Molly. The judge denied this motion. On the surface that may have seemed unfair but it was not clear when these statements were made. After Jason was murdered it seems that until her arrest the children lived with Molly, both being under the age of ten. She attempted to seek legal guardianship of them but Jason's family fought her and won. It is amazing that she even believed it to be possible because while I do not have an exact date of arrest for her, or her father, I can only assume if it was not immediately, it was within a few days.
The police were called to Molly and Jason's home in the early morning hours of August 2, 2015. Jason was found dead in the master bedroom of the home. He had been beaten with both a concrete paving brick and a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Investigators would later say that both weapons had blood, hair and brain tissue left on them. Molly and her father, Thomas Martens, a retired FBI agent, would claim that Jason had been physically abusing Molly to the point that her screams had awoke Thomas in the basement bedroom he was in. Investigators, as well as later jurors, would find it curious that Thomas' wife, and Molly's mother, Sharon was also in that same bedroom and alleged she heard nothing and remained in the basement the entire night, still there when the police arrived at the scene. At any rate Molly and Thomas would allege that Jason had threatened them both as well as struggled with them. At their trial in 2017 they would both claim self-defense and the defense of another.
Their trial would begin in July of 2017 and last about four weeks. The prosecutors would say that it was her desire to adopt the children and the fact that Jason had a $600,000 life insurance policy that had fed Molly's motives. They had testimony from a former co-worker of Thomas' that alleged he did not like Jason, but nothing seem to give specifics on that as to why Thomas supposedly did not like him. The prosecutors would allege that Jason was first struck in the head with the concrete paving brick, that for reasons unknown Molly had next to her bed, while he was sleeping. The medical examiner would say due to the severity of the injuries they could only say Jason had been struck at least twelve times and at least one to four of those blows had been struck after he was already dead. This means that he was obviously no longer a threat, if he really had been to begin with. The ME would testify that when Jason's body was placed on the postmortem table piece of his skull fell. He would also testify that Jason had levels of the sedative Trazedone in his system, a medication that Molly had been prescribed only two days earlier. No one seemed to have a logical explanation as to how that drug made it into his body and to be fair I was not able to determine how high those levels were. Blood splatter experts testified that Jason was on the ground or in the bed when most or all of the blows to his head were taken. Blood from the hem of Thomas' boxers indicated that he was standing over Jason as he swung the baseball bat.
Prosecutors would allege that not only had the pair killed Jason in cold blood but that they delayed calling 911. And, they say that when they did talk to the operator they faked giving Jason CPR as instructed and described by the operator. Neither Molly nor her dad had blood covering their palms that would indicate they would have given the “600 chest pumps” they indicated in the call.
While the defense would continue to argue, with Thomas testifying on his own behalf, that Jason had attacked Molly, which woke up her father and he went upstairs to defend his daughter, while Jason continued his attack on both of them, the prosecutors pointed out that neither Molly nor her father had any torn clothing or marks on their bodies. Jason Corbett was not a small man; Molly Corbett was not a big woman, and Thomas Martens, well he had the issue of age against him. Regardless if Thomas and Molly told the truth and Jason attacked them, at some point Jason was obviously attacked and in the fight of his life. How did neither one of these defendants have a mark on them. Remember that allegedly the fight began only between Molly and Jason and was loud enough to wake her father.
On August 9, 2017 the jury of nine women and three men reached a verdict after three hours of deliberations. When it came to Thomas it was said the first vote was unanimous in deciding he was guilty of 2nd degree murder. They were split 10-2 initially on Molly but would later say that the crime scene photos helped them make their decision to also convict her on charges of 2nd degree murder. I am sure the prosecutor was hoping for 1st degree but seemed happy with what he got. In my opinion it was a bit of a compromise verdict. The jurors would later say they were bothered by two things... 1) that neither of the defendants had any marks on them indicating the struggle they alleged had with Jason and 2) that Molly's mother Sharon allegedly heard nothing, saw nothing and never left the basement. While there were no marks on the defendants they could not say with absolute certainty that there was not a struggle, however, the blood splatter and the injuries indicated that Jason was on the ground much of the time meaning he was no longer a threat and their continued hits to him were unjustified. They would each be sentenced to 20-25 years in prison.
Thomas was put in special protective custody considering he was former law enforcement. The judge in the case made a surprising recommendation at Molly's sentencing. He suggested that she get psychological and psychiatric “support.” Whether this recommendation was an indication that the judge believed she had been abused or he got wind of some mental issues she had is unclear.
A month after their conviction Molly and Thomas apparently filed a joint appeal. I am a bit confused at the filing. It does seem that it was filed so quickly in order to also delay a wrongful death suit that had been filed against them (and Sharon Martens) by Jason's family, but the article based on the filing seemed very odd. The whole idea of an appeal is to argue against things such as the issue of ineffective counsel or rulings made by the judge in the trial. An appeal is not to continue to argue your case. You get one shot at that basically. However everything I found referring to this filing mentioned things like “Jason Corbett's death was the sole proximate result of his own deliberate attempt to kill Molly Corbett and kill or seriously injure Mr. Martens” and “Jason Corbett then wrestled the bat away from Mr. Martens and came after him with the bat without releasing Molly Corbett.” In my opinion this is another attempt to “try” the case. Seeing as this was filed just six months ago I have not seen a ruling.
I know up until now I have only touched the surface of any mental illness that Molly suffered. But, as I said I do not think the defense felt it would benefit either of the defendants to attempt that route, and yet it seems as if the judge saw or heard something. During the course of the investigation a man named Keith Maginn was found in Tennessee. Keith had once been engaged to Molly. In fact, they were engaged when she suddenly up and told him she was going to Ireland for a few weeks. He never heard from her again. Just how long the couple had been together was not made clear but according to Maginn, Molly had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and just before she went to Ireland she had “spent time in a psych ward in Atlanta.” Keith Maginn said that Molly was on what he called an “astonishing amount of potent medications” when she left and was prone to lying in her every day life. He claimed that while her parents knew of their daughter's issues they did little to help her with them. After talking to Maginn it was said that the investigators did not think his testimony would have been useful so the jury did not hear from him. I think I would have to agree with them on a few levels. For one, this was at least seven years before Jason's murder so it was not necessarily relevant. For two, if the prosecutors put him on the stand it could have opened the door for a mental illness defense and yet the defense would not have wanted his testimony because it would mess up their plans.
According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections Thomas has been moved into regular population at the prison and has apparently had no issues. As far as Molly goes she has received one infraction. In November of 2017 she was said she had an “unauthorized leave” but it is not listed as an escape. I did not find out what exactly this meant but I have to wonder if it was not something like not being where she was expected or supposed to be or something very, very minor while she learned the “ropes” of prison. Both she and her father have a projected release date of August 3, 2037. If they both remained imprisoned they will be fifty-three and eighty-seven at the time of their release.