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Thomas Martens had told the 911 operator he thought he had killed his son-in-law, and when authorities arrived at the brick house on a golf course in Lexington, N.C., there was little argument.
Jason Corbett was naked on the floor of his bedroom. His head had been bashed in. A 28-inch Louisville Slugger baseball bat and a concrete brick were found near the body, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Martens — who spent 31 years as an FBI agent before a career at the Department of Energy in his home state of Tennessee — freely admitted he had attacked Corbett on August 2, 2015.
He told authorities he had stumbled upon the couple fighting during a visit. Jason Corbett was choking Molly Corbett, he claimed. The attack was a rescue. She backed up her father’s story.
But that tale eventually unraveled. Both Molly Corbett and Martens were indicted on a charge of second-degree murder. Davidson County prosecutors said the father and daughter violently attacked Jason Corbett, and then created a cover story.
This week, a jury agreed and found them guilty.
And yet, the court case’s conclusion still fails to answer many of the questions about what happened.
Molly Corbett was Jason Corbett’s second wife. His first wife died in 2006 after a freak asthma attack, according to the Times. At the time, the Irishman was living in Limerick, Ireland, and was left alone to raise two small children: Jack, then 2 years old, and Sarah, only 12 weeks old.
Eventually, he posted an online ad for a full-time nanny. A response came from Molly Martens, a young woman from Knoxville, Tenn. She was reportedly a former model and competitive swimmer. Molly moved in with the family in Ireland in 2008.
A romance developed and three years later, in 2011, she married Corbett. His company offered him a transfer to a job at a packing company in Lexington, N.C., not far from Winston-Salem. So Corbett, his two young children and his new wife moved into a brick home on a cul-de-sac in a golf community.
But strain had begun to wear down the marriage. The Independent reported that Corbett would not sign the legal papers allowing Molly to adopt his two children.
His sister, Tracey Lynch, would later testify that the Corbett family detected bad vibes from Molly: She seemed to lie about her past, at various points “claiming she was an Olympic swimmer, a teacher, a foster parent to a six-year-old boy and a book editor,” according to the Independent.
After the murder, Lynch and Molly Corbett went to court, each petitioning a judge for custody of the children. The court sided with Lynch; Jack and Sarah went to live in Ireland in 2015 — long before the criminal trial.
Criminal charges were filed against Molly Corbett and her father in January 2016. The trial began last month. According to prosecutors, by the time of the murder, the marriage bonds had snapped: Jason Corbett was homesick for Ireland and contemplating leaving with his children. Molly Corbett had lost interest in husband but was desperate to keep her stepchildren.
Her father had also soured on his son-in-law, prosecutors alleged. A co-worker from the Department of Energy testified the former FBI agent admitted, “That son-in-law, I hate him,” according to the Dispatch.
Prosecutors added that Jason Corbett had a $600,000 life insurance policy — a further motive for murder.
The state’s case was bolstered by physical evidence. Forensic experts testified that the sheer brutality of the beating — Corbett was bludgeoned 12 times — suggested a one-sided assault, not self-defense. Neither Martens nor his daughter were injured or bore signs of a struggle.
After three weeks of trial, the jury returned Wednesday with a verdict after a three-hours deliberation, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. Molly Corbett wept as the guilty verdict for second-degree murder was read, then turned to her mother in the courtroom gallery.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” she said. “I wish he would have killed me.”
The judge immediately segued into the sentencing hearing. Victim impact statements were read from Corbett’s family.
One stood out.
Jack Corbett, now 12 years old, one of the stepchildren at the center of the tug-of-war between Molly Corbett and his father, submitted his own message to the court. A prosecutor read the letter.
“There is one more thing Molly Martens will not be part of, and that is part of the Corbett family,” the boy reportedly wrote. “My burden will not be lifted until she is put away.”
Both Martens and his daughter were given prison sentences of 20 to 25 years.
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