Michelle Young

Jason Young appeals conviction in wife's 2006 beating death

Posted July 30, 2013

— An appellate attorney for a Raleigh man serving life in prison for beating to death his pregnant wife says a Wake County Superior Court judge should not have allowed testimony at his trial last year about the behavior of the couple's 2-year-old daughter in the days after the murder.

Jason Young murder trial Complete coverage: Michelle Young murder case

Employees of the day care that Cassidy Young attended testified during the seven-week murder trial of Jason Young that, six days after the crime, she appeared to re-enact her mother's attack with two dolls that resembled her parents.

Michelle Young, 29, was five months' pregnant with the couple's second child when she was found Nov. 3, 2006, face down in a pool of blood in the master bedroom of the Youngs' Raleigh home.

Jason Young, 39, was found guilty of first-degree murder on March 5, 2012 – nearly a year after he testified in his first murder trial, which ended with a deadlocked jury that forced Judge Donald Stephens to declare a mistrial.

The day care workers' testimony was not introduced in Jason Young's first trial, and appellate attorney Barbara Blackman argues in a 54-page appellate brief that Stephens should not have allowed it in the second.

Among other issues in the appeal, Blackman also argues that Stephens' decision to allow testimony about a $15.5 million wrongful death lawsuit and about a custody dispute over Cassidy Young violated Jason Young's right to a fair trial.

The brief also argues that Stephens should not have instructed the jury that it could consider Jason Young's "failure to talk to friends and family as substantive evidence of guilt."

Jason Young Jason Young appeals 2012 murder conviction

"Instructing the jury that it could infer guilt from Mr. Young's silence was error so fundamental that the jury probably would have returned a different verdict had it not been permitted to do so," Blackman writes.

The next step in the appeals process is for the state to respond with its own brief before the North Carolina Court of Appeals decides whether it will hear arguments on the case.

"We knew it was coming. I expected nothing less. It's a first-degree murder case with a life sentence," Michelle Young's sister, Meredith Fisher, said Tuesday afternoon. "I have faith in Judge Stephens. I think every opinion he ruled on was appropriate."

Jason Young's defense attorneys, Mike Klinkosum and Bryan Collins, had no comment about the appeal Tuesday, but prosecutor Becky Holt said she, too, is sure about the case and its outcome.

"I don't think there's any surprises in what I've seen with regard to the appeal," she said. "There's certain issues that they've picked out that they want the Court of Appeals to review, and we feel very confident that Judge Stephens made the right rulings and that (the conviction) will be upheld."

Jason Young, who is incarcerated at Alexander Correctional Institution in Alexander County, has maintained he was away on business in Virginia when Michelle Young was killed and that he had no involvement in her death.

The state argued that the couple's marriage was troubled and that Jason Young, pressured by the responsibilities of marriage and family, wanted out of the relationship.

The night before his wife's death, prosecutors said, he checked into a hotel just over the Virginia border and then drove back to his home and committed the crime before returning to Virginia to continue on with his trip.

Fisher discovered her sister's body more than nine hours later, as well as Cassidy, unharmed, hiding under the cover of her parents' bed.


This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • kat4eagles Aug 5, 6:59 p.m.

    I have read the motion and hope that Jason gets an appeal.

    Jason did not have time to drive to the hotel and back and do all the things he would have to do. A very credible witness saw a car in the driveway that very am, at a time Jason could not have been there.

    Jason deserves a new trial.

  • GOPACK80 Aug 2, 10:25 a.m.

    Unlike Brad Cooper, Jason Young has ZERO chance on his appeal. As usual, Chief Judge Stephens was on top of his game and these points outlined by Ms. Blackman just show she is grasping at straws. The jury has spoken. Jason Young will die in prison.

  • sjb2k1 Aug 1, 9:54 a.m.

    For the record, though I think JY is guilty, I do not believe the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And if Stephens actually said that to the jury, this case should be retried...again. That said, "Are you suggesting we should disregard all of this officer's statements because of that?" No, I'm just saying that you should be open to the possibility that what's in that search warrant wasn't 100% accurate, as there is one big blatant error of fact in it.

  • lynne0312 Jul 31, 7:39 p.m.

    So 2 of the three versions of her story were just miscommunications? Even the State didn't try to make that asertion. When people tell different versions of something, it usually means they are being untruthful, don't you think?

    The fact that C's age was wrong? I don't know. Was she almost age 3? I really don't know exactly how old she was. Are you suggesting we should disregard all of this officer's statements because of that?

  • sjb2k1 Jul 31, 7:14 p.m.

    "She probably told the fireman there that she found C. in the closet."

    Now who's making a leap? The investigator testified under oath that a fireman told him that. Not Meredith. Who's to say the fireman didn't just misunderstand her?

    -And explain how C's age was wrong in the warrant. That was a fact that there was no confusion on. And it was WRONG.

  • kat4eagles Jul 31, 7:00 p.m.

    The size 10 shoe was a Franklin, Lynne

  • lynne0312 Jul 31, 7:00 p.m.

    "In that video the guy says the information about the closet came from a volunteer fireman who had never been inside the house. And then, as I have already said, that search warrant had C's age wrong...so clearly at least one *non-disputable fact was wrong* in the the warrant. No conspiracy here."

    You're funny. Do you remember that Meredith was waiting in the firetruck? She probably told the fireman there that she found C. in the closet. Who cares that he wasn't in the house? That's not important. Her recorded inconsistent statements are very important. I can't simply dismiss inconsistencies like that.

  • lynne0312 Jul 31, 6:58 p.m.

    "The gas station attendant should have been included in the appeal as well, she never picked his photo from a lineup, just the photo they showed her."

    The first appeal can only be about judicial rulings. Also, NC didn't have the photo lineup requirements that they have now at the time of the investigation. I agree about Gracie's testimony though. All of it - there were no surveillance videos, no witnesses, she described him wrong, way wrong and had a very poor memory. This was extremely weak. I can't believe anyone on that jury could have accepted ANY of her testimony.

  • lynne0312 Jul 31, 6:52 p.m.

    "They also never answered the question about why the bloody shoe prints found in the home were a different size than Jason Young wore."

    Actually, two bloody prints were found. A size 10 athletic shoe from the Dollar Store (can't remember the brand name given) and a size 12 print that could have been a Hushpuppy that Jason purchased in '05. It could have also been of a few different varieties of that manufacturer.

    Jason testified that that shoes were likely donated to Goodwill. Unless there's evidence (there's not) that he was wearing those shoes that night and they were then missing, they can't prove anything.

    Also, we know there was staging of the scene (though the defense didn't point this out very well). C's prints were staged, so why not grab a shoe from J's closet and stage some bloody footprints with an old pair of his shoes? I think that's a very likely scenario. We know someone was rummaging through the closets.

  • sjb2k1 Jul 31, 6:52 p.m.

    In that video the guy says the information about the closet came from a volunteer fireman who had never been inside the house. And then, as I have already said, that search warrant had C's age wrong...so clearly at least one *non-disputable fact was wrong* in the the warrant. No conspiracy here.