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Trial begins in death of Irish businessman in Davidson County

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- On Tuesday, jurors were handed notebooks to help sort their thoughts as opening statements finally began in the second-degree murder trial for the death of 39-year-old Jason Corbett.

The doors of the superior courtroom opened and closed several times during the trial between witnesses, local and international journalists and Lexington residents who thought the case would be entertaining to watch.

So much so, that Judge David Lee advised the court to restrict all the "up and down" not to be a distraction to the jury.

Thomas Martens, 65, and daughter, 31-year-old Molly Corbett, are charged with second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.

In the state's opening statement, the prosecution shared with the jury that Martens had struck Corbett in the head with bat "at least 10 times."

The prosecution detailed a gruesome scene on the morning of Aug. 2, 2015, inside the Davidson County home on Panther Creek Court.

Jurors were told first responders found a "naked dead bloody body of Jason Corbett."

The jury was told to expect to see the several scene photos showing the bat, brick paver and Corbett's body. Expert testimony in the days to come will be the medical examiner, with explanations of the blood transfer and impact pattern analysis of Corbett's blood on the wall, bedroom floor and bathroom.

The state counters the idea of self-defense, posing the question to jurors, "Why didn't he stop?"

The defense answered that question in that statement explaining that Molly Corbett and Martens would not be here today Martens had not.

Martens admitted to the 911 dispatcher he had struck Corbett and "may have killed him" after walking in the room seeing Corbett choking Molly. The defense also claimed Martens was readily available and cooperative for DNA and statements before he was officially charged in December.

Pictures were taken by investigators on the scene that night of Molly with a mark on her neck under her left ear. The defense asked jury members to "keep and open mind" when reviewing them in the days to come, especially the one of Corbett's hand that shows a clenching fist holding blonde hair.

The defense explained the gap in size and strength of the two men claiming Corbett was "nearly twice the size of Martens" at 260 pounds.

Following opening statements, the state called Karen Caps to the stand; the Davidson County 911 communicator who answered the call at 3:02 a.m. nearly two years ago.

Caps walked Molly and Martens through CPR instruction over the phone, giving Corbett 600 chest pumps until EMS arrived.

The 14-minute recorded call was played for the courtroom and tears shed from Molly and others during the emotional repetitive counts "1, 2, 3, 4."

Second to the stand was nurse practitioner Katie Wingate from Kernersville Primary Care. Both Molly and Jason Corbett sought care and treatment at the facility dating back to 2012.

The state's questions to Wingate centered around Molly's proscribed medication Trazodone. Wingate explained the medication is used for sleep deprivation and sometimes depression. That drug was found in Jason Corbett's system based on toxicology reports even though he was never prescribed it.

The defense did however detail to multiple doctor visits and depression tests that Jason Corbett performed at the medical center. Emphasizing the doctors notes of the most recent July 2015 visit (two weeks before the incident) in which Corbett told physicians he "recently became angry for no reason."

CVS pharmacy supervisor James Hyatt took the stand next. While the state confirmed with Hyatt that the Tradozone was only prescribed for Molly Corbett, the defense posed the question that it's not uncommon or unknown for family members to share medications.

Cpl. Dagenhart, with the Davidson County Sheriff's Officer, began with testimony describing the bloody scene but was interrupted due to time and objection from the defense as to whether his description of the congealed blood is opinion or expertise.

The trial will reconvene Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m.