LEXINGTON, N.C. — Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens will get a new trial, years after they were each sentenced to 20-25 years in prison on second-degree murder charges in Jason Corbett’s death.
District Attorney Garry Frank said the majority opinion gives a new trial. He will ask the attorney general’s office to bring the case to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
“We certainly were disappointed in the decision and don’t agree with the decision,” he said. “I’m sure it’s very disturbing to the victim’s family, but we’ll work our way through it and keep seeking justice.”
Both defense attorneys filed appeals after the sentencing.
“It’s rare to even get an oral argument before the Court of Appeals, (to) then have the Court of Appeals grant you relief after getting an oral argument is very very rare, I think extremely appropriate in this case but it is rare,” said Marten’s attorney David Freedman.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that Corbett and Martens were unable to present a meaningful defense during their 2017 trial.
“Essentially what the court was saying was by not allowing us to present evidence that was relevant and competent, we were deprived of a fair jury trial,” Freedman explained.
He said it was unknown Tuesday if the father and daughter would be able to leave prison.
The conviction means the jury unanimously believed the killing was done in malice.
Moments after the 2017 verdict was announced, Corbett broke out crying while Martens remained quiet. Before being taken into custody, Corbett turned to her mother and said she’s “really sorry.”
The two claimed self-defense during the trial.
Jury foreman Tom Ammland said the decision did not come easily. The group voted 12-0 for Martens to receive second-degree murder, but were stuck at 10-2 for Corbett.
”After going over some of the evidence and discussing it, the clothing and proximity to the attack, we felt that she could have gotten out of that situation but chose to stay,” Ammland said.
Testimony and 911 calls show Martens came to his daughter’s defense the night of Aug. 3, 2015, when he says he saw Jason choking Molly. He says he intervened with a baseball bat.
Testimony from doctors at the scene shows Corbett was hit in the head 10 times with a baseball bat and cement brick. His autopsy shows he died from blunt force trauma to the head.
For Ammland and the rest of the jury, they hope both sides will now be able to find peace.
“There are no winners in this case. everybody loses to some degree and we all agreed on that,” Ammland said.