Entertainment

This weekend’s 48 HOURS episode will examine a high-profile NC murder

Jason Corbett, left, and Molly Martens on their wedding day in 2011.
Jason Corbett, left, and Molly Martens on their wedding day in 2011. CBS / 48 HOURS

Corrected at 11 a.m. April 19, 2019. See details in the story.

On Saturday, CBS will present the story of a high-profile North Carolina murder that reverberated across the globe.

The news magazine “48 HOURS” examines the August 2015 murder of Irish businessman Jason Corbett at the hands of his wife, Molly Martens Corbett, and her father, former FBI agent Thomas Martens, inside the Corbett home in Winston-Salem.

A Davidson County jury found Molly Corbett, originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, and her father guilty of second-degree murder after a monthlong trial that ended in August 2017.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, 39-year-old Jason was beaten with a baseball bat and a concrete brick paver in his bedroom in the early hours of Aug. 2, 2015, crushing his skull.

The paper reported in 2017 that defense attorneys for Molly Corbett and her father told the jury in closing arguments that “prosecutors had failed to provide any compelling evidence that disproves what Martens and Molly Corbett told investigators Aug. 2, 2015, the day Jason Corbett died: that Jason Corbett choked and threatened to kill Molly Corbett and Martens struck him with the baseball bat in an effort to protect himself and his daughter.”

(An earlier version of this story included reference to a theory that Jason Corbett was beaten while he was sleeping, but that theory was never part of the trial, it was a theory forwarded by Jason’s sister Tracey Corbett-Lynch, in an interview with an Irish newspaper.)

Molly Corbett and Martens gave an interview to the ABC news program “20/20” in August 2017, before their conviction, calling Jason Corbett “controlling” and “paranoid” and described violent behavior that took place behind closed doors. The program played audio recordings Molly Corbett made of her husband screaming at her during fights. Molly Corbett and her father even raised questions about how Jason Corbett’s first wife had died — saying that perhaps he had killed her.

Jason Corbett’s family objects to that narrative.

Tracey Corbett-Lynch wrote a book about the killing called “My Brother Jason: The Untold Story of Jason Corbett’s Life and Brutal Murder by Tom and Molly Martens,” published by Gill Books in Ireland. The book paints Molly Corbett as a manipulative liar who targeted her husband through a nanny service because he was a rich widower with young children.

Corbett-Lynch said she and members of her family are participating in Saturday’s “48 HOURS” program to counter the allegations from the Martenses that Jason Corbett was killed in self-defense. “We will never falter in our campaign to ensure that Tom and Molly Martens serve the full sentence handed down by a North Carolina court for their terrible crime,” Corbett-Lynch said in a statement printed by the Irish Mirror newspaper.

This will be Corbett-Lynch’s first American television interview, according to CBS.

In Saturday’s episode, Corbett-Lynch tells “48 HOURS” reporter Maureen Maher, “The Martens didn’t just murder Jason, they tried to destroy his character.”

The Lexington Dispatch printed a statement from Corbett-Lynch saying the family has vowed to “challenge every lie and scurrilous allegation leveled against his good name by those who resort to anything in their bid to evade justice for their crimes.”

According to the Lexington Dispatch, members of the Martens family will also appear in the “48 HOURS” episode to argue that Molly Corbett and her father did not receive a fair trial and that key evidence was not heard by the jury.

Molly Corbett’s uncle, Michael Earnest, told The News & Observer that he and Connor Martens, Molly’s brother, were both interviewed for “48 HOURS.”

“Both Connor and I stressed that Tom and Molly did not receive a fair trial as outlined by the Appellate Briefs and Oral Arguments and more importantly key evidence was never heard by the jury,” Earnest said in an email. “An example were the interviews of the two children conducted by the NC DSS including two forensic interviews where both children stated they had witnessed their father verbally, emotionally, and physically abuse Molly. Additionally, during my interview I explained, through evidence presented at trial, the numerous fictions being presented as fact in the Irish media. I also attempted to emphasize Tom’s 31 years of laudatory service as an FBI agent, his 40 years passing detailed security background investigations, and that neither Tom or Molly have any derogatory record.”

Earnest, who helps manage a Facebook page dedicated to freeing Tom and Molly, also stressed that the only evidence presented at trial regarding mental instability pertained to Jason Corbett. “No evidence presented regarded Molly,” he said.

In January of this year, attorneys representing Martens argued before the N.C. Court of Appeals that Molly Corbett and Tom Martens did not receive a fair trial. An article in the Greensboro News & Record detailed the points argued in that hearing and said it will be months before the judges decide if the convictions are upheld or overturned.

“48 HOURS” will air at 10 p.m. Saturday on CBS.

Brooke Cain is a North Carolina native who has worked at The News & Observer for more than 20 years. She writes about TV and local media for the Happiness is a Warm TV blog, and answers CuriousNC questions for readers.
  Comments