The children of murdered Irish man Jason Corbett will be 'absolutely crucial' to a re-trial of Molly Martens and her father in the US.
Martens, Corbett's second wife, and her father Thomas were sentenced to up to 25 years in prison following a 2017 conviction.
They appealed this to the North Carolina Supreme Court, and are now facing a re-trial.
Mr Corbett's children, Jack and Sarah, are among those attending court hearings in the US.
Ralph Riegel, southern correspondent with the Irish Independent, told The Hard Shoulder his family are hoping for a timeframe.
"What we have today is a pre-trial hearing, and essentially what that's going to deal with is the logistical and the administrative aspects of this re-trial.
"I suppose the most crucial thing that will be decided today - certainly the Corbett family hope - will be the time of that re-trial, when it will take place this year".
It had been indicated the re-trial would take place in May and June, however a defence application could put it back to the autumn.
Ralph explains: "[That] would be quite problematic for the Irish family, given that Jason Corbett's two children - Jack who's 17 and Sarah who's 15 - they're both facing into very crucial exam years back in Ireland."
He says several members of the Corbett family are in the court today.
"Critically a part of that is to show their support for the prosecutors.
"Garry Frank is the district attorney here in Davidson County - it was his legal team that secured a conviction on second-degree murder charges of Tom and Molly Martens."
And he says evidence by Mr Corbett's children will central to the re-trial.
"Crucially there was no evidence taken, or no written statements read in to evidence, in the original trial from Mr Corbett's two children.
"That was a crucial element in the Martens succeeding in their appeal against their conviction.
"So we're expecting that their evidence is going to be absolutely crucial and central to any re-trial.
"They didn't attend any of the evidence or jury selection for the five-weeks that the trial ran for in 2017.
"But Jack did submit a Victim Impact Statement, which was read out on his behalf, just before the sentencing hearing of Tom and Molly Martens.
"And that was an exceptionally powerful statement read out by Jack.
"They were both in the house on the night Jason Corbett was beaten to death".