The children of an Irish businessman who a jury said was murdered in Davidson County by his wife and his father-in-law will get a total payment of $750,000 in a settlement of a wrongful-death lawsuit, a judge ruled Monday.
The settlement is on behalf of the estate of Jason Corbett, who was found bludgeoned to death in the early hours of Aug. 2, 2015. His body was found in the master bedroom at 160 Panther Creek Court in the Meadowlands, a golf-course community in Davidson County. The money from the settlement will go to 14-year-old Jack Corbett and Sarah Corbett, 12, who are Jason’s children from his first marriage. His first wife, Margaret Fitzpatrick Corbett, died in November 2006 from cardiac arrest stemming from an asthma attack.
The children live in Ireland with Jason’s sister, Tracey Lynch and her husband, David Lynch.
Molly Corbett, his second wife, and her father, Thomas Martens, a former FBI agent, were convicted of second-degree murder in August 2017 by a jury after a month-long trial. They were each sentenced to 20 years to 25 years in prison. Davidson County prosecutors argued that Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens used a 28-inch Louisville Slugger baseball bat and a concrete paving brick to beat Jason Corbett to death.
The two denied they murdered Jason Corbett and claimed self-defense, saying that Jason Corbett had choked Molly Corbett and threatened both of their lives. They have appealed their case to the N.C. Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in the matter on Jan. 31. The court has not ruled on the appeals.
Judge Allen Baddour of Davidson Superior Court approved the settlement Monday. A superior court judge had to approve the settlement because it involved minor children.
David Lynch, the executor of Jason Corbett’s estate, filed the civil lawsuit in Davidson Superior Court on July 19, 2017, just as a jury was being selected in the criminal case. The lawsuit names Thomas and Sharon Martens, Molly’s parents, and Molly Corbett as defendants. Sharon Martens was never criminally charged in Jason Corbett’s death.
As part of the settlement, the defendants did not admit any liability in Jason Corbett’s death. In a few days, the civil lawsuit will be voluntarily dismissed. Also dismissed will be a federal lawsuit filed by Sate Farm Fire and Casaulty Co. in which the insurance company claimed it was not required to cover the claims against Thomas and Sharon Martens. The Martens had a homeowner’s insurance policy and a personal liability umbrella policy with the company.
Molly Corbett was dismissed with prejudice from the lawsuit. She filed a court document renouncing claims to her husband’s life-insurance policy. As part of the settlement, Thomas and Sharon Martens will pay $180,000. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., will pay out $20,000.
The rest of the settlement money will come from Jason Corbett’s life-insurance policy through his employer, Mutli-Packaging Solutions. That totals $601,000, which has been held in a trust in Jason Corbett’s estate.
Taking out attorney fees and other costs, the net amount that will go to the children will be approximately $750,000. The money will go into a trust set up for the children.
Walter Holton, Molly Corbett’s attorney, told The Dispatch in Lexington that Molly Corbett requested that the life-insurance money go to the children. He also told The Dispatch that Molly Corbett did not know about Jason Corbett’s life-insurance policy until after Jason’s death. Holton did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Thomas Martens also did not know about the money until after Jason’s death, according to Dudley Witt, his attorney.
Davidson County prosecutors implied during the criminal trial that the life-insurance policy might have been a motive for Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens to kill Jason Corbett.
David Pishko, attorney for David Lynch, said Jason Corbett’s family is “glad that this part of the case is over and is grateful that everyone involved in this tragic event agreed the Corbett children should be taken care of.”
Witt said the Martens couple saw Jason’s children as their own grandchildren. He also said another issue is that Sharon Martens is dealing with health issues and it was important to get this part of the case behind them so she can focus on her health.
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