LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) - A man and his daughter who were sentenced to prison in the 2015 death of an Irish businessman were released on bond Wednesday, weeks after the North Carolina Supreme court agreed that their convictions should be reversed.
Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to pursue a retrial against Thomas Martens and Molly Corbett.
The two were sentenced in August 2017 to 20 to 25 years in prison for the death of Molly Corbett’s husband, Jason Corbett, at their home in a golf course community in Davidson County. Investigators said they used an aluminum baseball bat and brick paver to kill Jason Corbett, fracturing his skull and causing injuries to his arm, legs and torso.
A 4-3 majority on the state’s Supreme Court sided on March 12 with an appeals court decision that reversed a jury’s second-degree murder convictions and said that Martens and Molly Corbett must get a new trial. The court agreed that evidence had been wrongly excluded that weakened their ability to argue they acted in self-defense.
Associate Justice Anita Earls, writing for the majority, pointed to omitted statements that the Corbetts’ two children had made during a medical evaluation soon after the death that indicated their father had been abusive in the home. Prosecutors alleged that the statements were not reliable and that both children later recanted. The trial judge excluded the statements from being entered into the trial.
To be released on bond, which was set at $200,000 apiece, Martens and Molly Corbett had to surrender their passports and they will not be allowed contact with any member of Jason Corbett’s family, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank told WGHP-TV that he does not discuss pretrial matters and will neither confirm or deny any plea offers. He added that a retrial is not off the table.
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