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Three years ago, the North Carolina Supreme Court in State v. Corbett, 2021-NCSC-18, ___ N.C. ___, 855 S.E.2d 228, 252 (2021), affirmed the court of appeals’ reversal of the defendants’ convictions for second degree murder. The case garnered national and international attention. The victim, Jason Corbett, was a citizen of Ireland, who had relocated to Davidson County, North Carolina, in 2011 following the 2006 death of his first wife, who was the mother of his two children. Jason moved to North Carolina with his two children and his then-romantic partner, Molly Martens, who had been his children’s au pair in Ireland. Jason and Molly married later that year.

Molly’s parents, Thomas and Sharon Martens, who lived in Tennessee, visited the Corbett home on August 1, 2015. Thomas, a retired FBI agent and former attorney, testified that he awoke to the sounds of a struggle in the middle of the night and discovered Jason choking Molly. Thomas said he attempted to stop Jason by hitting him with an aluminum baseball bat. Molly also hit Jason with a brick paver. Jason’s skull was fractured from multiple blows, and he died at the scene. Both Thomas and Molly were charged with murder. The North Carolina Supreme Court determined that the trial court erred by (1) excluding hearsay statements from the children that their father was abusive toward Molly and that their father had become angry that evening upon his daughter awakening him, and (2) by excluding testimony from Thomas that he heard Molly yell “don’t hurt my dad” during the altercation.

Molly and Thomas were released from prison on Thursday: Molly from the the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh and Thomas from the Caldwell Correctional Center in Lenoir. Following the state supreme court’s decision, each entered pleas to voluntary manslaughter and served about seven more months behind bars.

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