Jason Corbett: Wife and father-in-law admit Irishman's manslaughter

A US woman and her father who had been accused of murdering her Irish husband have agreed plea deals to manslaughter charges.

Jason Corbett, 39, was killed in his North Carolina home in 2015.

His wife Molly Martens Corbett and her father Thomas Martens were convicted of second-degree murder in 2017.

They appealed the conviction and the case was quashed by an appeal court in 2020, and a new trial ordered.

Mr Corbett, a 39-year-old business manager from Limerick, was found beaten to death in the main bedroom of his house in Lexington in 2015.

Molly Martens Corbett and her father, a former FBI agent, were later sentenced to 20 and 25 years respectively, before those convictions were quashed.

They never denied killing Mr Corbet, but said they had acted in self-defence.

At a special setting of the Davison County Superior Court on Monday, Judge David Hall accepted the plea agreements to class D manslaughter, Irish broadcaster RTÉ reports.

As a result, the district attorney dropped murder charges against them.

The judge told the defendants that the Class D charge of manslaughter carries a sentence in a range that runs from 17 years in prison for the very worst cases, to probation if the judge finds exceptionally strong mitigating factors.

The state asked the court to consider the presence of persons under the age of 18 in the house at the time of Mr Corbett's killing as an aggravating factor.

Mr Corbett's two children from his previous marriage were asleep in the house at the time he was killed.

The presence of minors was not an aggravating factor in North Carolina law at the time of the offence but it has been made a statutory aggravating factor since.

It will be up to the judge to decide if an aggravating factor existed and how serious it was.

The case now moves to a sentencing hearing, during which a number of witnesses will be heard by the judge.