Molly Martens told a cellmate when she was released from prison on appeal in 2021 that she will “never, ever spend another day in prison. I can guarantee you that.”
Yesterday, as a sheriff stepped forward, handcuffed her and led her to jail, her father, Tom, avoided eye contact or offered any support.
Judge David Hall sentenced her to a minimum of 51 months, or four years and three months, and a maximum of 74 months, or six years and two months, in prison and ordered that she be placed on suicide watch and undergo a psychiatric evaluation. A few minutes later, her father Tom stood for sentencing and showed no reaction as he received the same sentence as his daughter.
He stood up, calmly took off his coat, took out his wallet and handed both to his son Stewart. His wife, Sharon, leaned over and whispered in his ear. Tom told her, “Everything will be okay.”
He then stood, put his wrists together and waited as a sheriff handcuffed him and led him away – a procedure the former FBI man has performed many times in his 30 years in law enforcement.
This time Mr Martens – described in court as a “Type A personality” who loved the law, taught the law and even drafted the law – was on the other side of justice. He is convicted of felony D and guilty of manslaughter.
The 73-year-old will return to prison for at least another seven months, most likely at Buttner Correctional Institute, a prison in North Carolina. The 44 months he and Molly Martens previously served in prison – for second-degree murder after an earlier trial in 2017, before being released on appeal – will be deducted from the sentence imposed by Judge David Hall on Wednesday.
The pair had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Molly Martens’ husband, Limerick man Jason Corbett.
The sentencing followed highly emotional victim impact statements from Jack and Sarah Corbett Lynch, the children of Jason Corbett, who was beaten to death with a baseball bat and a brick in his North Carolina home in the early hours of August 2, 2015.
Sarah, 17, brought tears to both sides of the aisle as she spoke of never having a father-daughter dance again, of never being able to show her father her future children, and of never having his hugs and wonderful things again Was able to experience laughter.
When she talked about Molly’s mistreatment of her and Jack, Sarah occasionally broke down and cried quietly the entire time.
“You have pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. I saw the bloody handprint on the bedroom door. My father’s death was not voluntary. I know in my heart that he tried to leave that room,” Sarah told the court in her victim impact statement.
With those words, Sarah had silenced the court, save for the tears that erupted from Molly Martens. At times, Martens sobbed so loudly that she threatened to drown out Sarah and Jack’s words. At the end of that sentencing hearing, the children were given a voice after the Martenses’ lawyers spent eight days eviscerating their father’s character, claiming he was a domestic abuser who killed his first wife.
The competing screams from both sides of the courtroom provided the perfect metaphor for where the pendulum of responsibility lies in this case.
“She cheated on me over and over again – even leaving a message I left her the last time I saw her. And she did all of this to promote her lies about my father. I couldn’t do anything to stop her. I was eight years old,” Sarah said.
“I tried to start a new life in Ireland but she chased me. She tried to hire a plane to fly a banner over my school in Limerick. The gardaí – the Irish police – were called to the school. Investigators monitored our home for a while.
“Can you imagine that in your first days at a new school, in a new country, you are eight years old, your father has been killed by your stepmother, and everyone is looking at you, the new girl? Can you imagine being a troubled girl trying to make friends? A friend of mine, a girl who sat next to me at school, was contacted by Molly Martens when I was in sixth grade, I was nine years old.”
When the judge heard this, his face visibly winced and he stared down at Molly Martens, who collapsed dramatically and finally placed her face on the side of the table in front of her.
I had never seen my father hit Molly Martens—ever. I’m not under any duress now; I want you to see me standing here today and know the truth
— Jack Corbett Lynch
Jack said Molly was the perpetrator in the house. The trauma of what happened to him at their home, 160 Panther Creek Court, had left Jack so depressed that he said he had considered suicide.
“The smart boy and happy child that everyone once saw was buried deep inside me and I don’t know if he will ever come out again. The tragedy and trauma I had to deal with as an adult destroyed me,” he said.
“Every day I wake up I have a constant feeling of never being enough and punishing myself in ways I know I don’t deserve but I can’t stop myself. I never felt like I could call anyone my own since I lost my father. I drown in pain every day. When I was a young teenager, I sometimes thought it would be easier if I wasn’t here anymore and then I could at least be with my father and mother and apologize and feel safe.”
Speaking calmly and with a strength and bravery that his 19 years did not betray, Jack stood tall and said, “Your Honor, do not be fooled by that polite mask of Molly Martens. There’s a monster lurking beneath the outside. She systematically beat me down and fed me falsehoods. Let me be clear: I have never seen my father hit Molly Martens – ever. I’m not under any duress now; I want you to look at me here today and know the truth.”
He then delivered something that brought many women in the Martens family to tears. The sons of Tom Martens bowed their heads as Jack revealed for the first time a wider conspiracy by other members of the Martens family.
“The fact that my father’s phone, laptops, computers and hard drives were in evidence bags at Bobby Martens’ house and were not found or admitted into evidence just shows that the entire Martens family was complicit in the cover-up of my father’s murder “It’s a travesty of justice that Molly Martens wasn’t charged with first-degree murder, as prosecutors said,” he said.
“Molly Martens needs to be locked away for as long as possible so she can’t do this to another family, another child. It is my biggest fear and gives me nightmares. She will do it again if she gets the chance.”