LEXINGTON — Molly Corbett and her father Thomas Martens won’t be released from custody this week after all, officials said, after reports circulated Monday that the pair charged in the death of Irish businessman Jason Corbett would be freed this week.
The dates showing releases this week were listed on the website of the N.C. Department of Adult Correction. A spokesman for the department said Monday that a review found that the dates were incorrect. The current projected release date is June 27, 2024 for both Martens and Molly Corbett.
The father and daughter were transferred to the Davidson County jail in preparation for what was believed to be their release. They will be now transferred back to state prisons to finish serving out their sentences, officials said.
The mistaken information showed Martens would be released on Tuesday and Corbett on Wednesday.
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In a plea deal, the father and daughter were each sentenced in November to 7 to 30 months of remaining prison time with credit for 44 months served, after they entered pleas in the death of Jason Corbett. Martens pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and Molly Corbett pleaded no contest to an identical charge, but her plea was treated by the court as a guilty plea.
Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank had expressed surprise Monday on hearing that Martens and Corbett would be released so soon.
“I was surprised it was this soon but it is totally the decision of (the North Carolina Department of Correction) based on the sentence imposed by Judge David Hall,” Frank said, in an interview before the miscalculation was revealed. Frank said he had no role in the release decision after the two were sentenced.
At the time of their convictions, an attorney for Corbett had said that the father and daughter would serve only 7 months in prison because of factors including points for good behavior they earned during their initial 44-month sentences.
The news of an impending release appeared to surprise defense lawyers as well on Monday.
“We respect the judgment of the court and the (sentencing) calculations by DOC,” said attorney Jones Byrd, who represents Thomas Martens. “Our client will look forward to being with his family as soon as he is able.”
Molly Martens Corbett and Thomas Martens were sentenced in November to between 51 and 74 months in prison in connection with the 2015 beating death of Jason Corbett. They had served 44 months in prison after a previous conviction, which was thrown out on appeal.
Lawyers for each spent months negotiating separate pleas to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
The decision on how much additional prison time — or whether to give any — was left to Judge Hall of Forsyth Superior Court. Prosecutors and defense lawyers argued their case in a sentencing hearing that ran for a week.
That became necessary after state appellate courts ordered a new trial after determining that errors had been made during their first trial in the summer of 2017. Martens and his daughter were each sentenced to between 20 and 25 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder.
Jason Corbett was bludgeoned to death in his Davidson County house on Aug. 2, 2015.
Investigators said that Martens Corbett and Martens, a former FBI agent, used an aluminum baseball bat and a paver stone used in landscaping to fracture Corbett’s skull and cause injuries to his arm, legs and torso.
The defense contended that they were acting in self-defense and that Martens had intervened only after seeing Corbett choking his daughter.
The couple met in 2008 when Molly Martens Corbett was working as an au pair caring for Corbett’s two children from a previous marriage.
Before handing down the new sentences in November, Hall said that “every criminal case “should be a search for the truth,” but he doesn’t know the truth in this case despite listening carefully to the evidence.
He added that he did not understand why Martens or his wife Sharon — who was also in the house — didn’t call 911 or how Martens and Molly Corbett were left basically unharmed when Jason Corbett was so badly beaten.
In court, Martens took responsibility, apologized and told Hall he had great respect for the law. He said he had to act when he saw the 260-pound Corbett choking his daughter.
“I had no choice,” Martens said. “I did the best that I could.”
Jason Corbett’s sister, Tracey Lynch Corbett, along with Corbett’s children and other family members, came from Ireland to attend last month’s hearing.