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Judge awards $15.5M to slain woman's family in civil suit

Posted March 16, 2009
Updated March 17, 2009

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— A Superior Court judge on Monday awarded the family of a slain Wake County woman $15.5 million in damages in a wrongful death suit against the woman's husband.

The award, which includes $11.7 million in punitive damages, was less than half of the $36 million Michelle Young's family had sought from Jason Young.

Michelle Young's mother, Linda Fisher, of Sayville, N.Y., filed a wrongful death suit last year against her son-in-law for her daughter's November 2006 beating death. When Jason Young failed to respond to the civil claim against him, a judge ruled in December that he was responsible for Michelle Young's death.

No one has been charged in the slaying, but Jason Young has been named a suspect in the case.

Linda Fisher (Michelle Young's mother) in court Michelle Young's family awarded damages

The civil ruling precluded Jason Young from collecting benefits from his wife's insurance policy and set the stage for Fisher to seek compensation that would go to Michelle and Jason Young's daughter, Cassidy.

Neither Jason Young nor his lawyers attended a Monday court hearing to determine the amount of compensation, which meant Fisher's lawyers were able to present their uncontested version of the case to Judge Osmond Smith.

Attorney Jack Michaels asked Smith to award the family $9 million in damages for the pain and suffering Michelle Young endured, the loss of her income and for Cassidy having to grow up without a mother. Michaels also asked Smith send a message and impose $27 million in punitive damages.

"What happened here to Michelle Young is not the way to end a marriage," Michaels said in his closing argument.

Michelle Young, who was five months' pregnant at the time, was found beaten to death in her Wake County home on Nov. 3, 2006. Her daughter was found unharmed in the home.

Jason Young told investigators he was out of town on business when his wife was killed, but he has otherwise been uncooperative with investigators. He spoke to them once and, under a court order, gave DNA samples.

Wake County Sheriff's Office investigator R.C. Spivey said in search warrants released last week that witnesses told detectives the Youngs "notoriously didn't get along" and that they had witnessed loud fights between the couple that would sometimes last for hours.

Spivey testified Monday that the slaying was particularly brutal.

"(It was) the most severe physical beating I've ever seen someone encounter," he said. "This [was] pretty extreme, a pretty vicious attack that she underwent."

Spivey said that, based on the evidence he's collected in the case over the last 23 months, he believes Jason Young planned his wife's slaying. The evidence includes computer searches on Jason Young's computer for "head trauma" and "the anatomy for the rear part of the skull," Spivey said.

"That ties in with the nature of her death," he said. "In my opinion, (her death) was premeditated."

Fisher testified Monday that her daughter was an intelligent woman and caring mother.

"She's the kind of person who didn't know how beautiful she was. She was a sincere, confident woman to everybody around," she said. "I feel for myself there's an emptiness, it's like my heart's been ripped out of me."

No one can fill the void in Cassidy's life left by her mother's death, Fisher said.

"We try to hug her and love her as much as we could, but it's never enough," she said.

Last month, Jason Young and Fisher reached a settlement in a custody case involving Cassidy. Under that agreement, he will share custody of the child with Michelle Young's sister, Meredith Fisher.

Meredith Fisher testified that Cassidy still has questions about her mother.

"I just grabbed her real tight and told her that her mom loved her so much and that she would squeeze her and hug her like this every chance she could," Meredith Fisher said as she wiped away tears.


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  • pebbles262004 Mar 18, 2009

    WHY is this man not in jail. I don't understand.....BC is in jail, but this man is free...I don't even think BC killed his wife. I think there was a very jealous friend.......jmo

  • haggis basher Mar 18, 2009

    "He has done the opposite of what an innocent man would do."
    Has your spouse been brutally murdered and you were number one suspect (they always are)? Intelligent people in that situation get a Lawyer and do what they say.Its not as if the Cops don't make mistakes is it?
    I agree that in this case he probably did do it but its basic justice that a criminal trial should precede any civil action.

  • Drakula_I_G Mar 17, 2009

    Sigh. Again, if ANYONE has any doubts about this guy's guilt, request a copy of the episode on this case from NC MOST WANTED. If you have doubts after viewing that, then I have a bridge to sell you in north-west Pakistan.

    A civil court is not a criminal court. You don't have to be "found guilty" in a criminal court - which represents the state/people and is concerned with doling out death sentences or serious prison time - and our CIVIL courts, which have to do with one citizen suing another for monetary damages for perceived wrongs. Neither one has to take place. They are independent of each other.

    The fact that he didn't even bother to show up speaks VOLUMES about whether he's guilty or not.

    Take the blinders off, people.

  • lissad821 Mar 17, 2009

    Every person who keeps posting something about he shouldn't have to pay, innocent until proven guilty, he isn't the killer, blah blah. Take time and research this case and educate yourself. He has done the opposite of what an innocent man would do. First show up for court and cooperate with LE to help them bring the "real" killer to justice in anyway you can. I hope none of you ever have to expeirence what Michelle's family is going through. How would you respond? It isn't about the money, but it is more about seeking justice for Michelle and her unborn son. In time he will get what he deserves. The money will not bring Michelle back to her family but in a way it does show them that they are not alone in thinking JY is responsible for this horrible crime.

  • nufsaid Mar 17, 2009

    "How in the world can you share custody with a killer?? There is a special place waiting for him and the sad thing is he'll get another wife who will think he had nothing to do with it.

    Maybe he didn't. I don't know and you don't either.

  • BoSox_Girl Mar 17, 2009

    if i read one more post about "i don't get it...how can you be guilty in a civil case if you haven't been charged in a criminal case" i'm going to puke. educate yourselves.

  • BoSox_Girl Mar 17, 2009

    too bad ignorance isn't painful.

  • diver Mar 17, 2009

    so much for innocent until proven guilty!!! He wasn't convicted of anything let alone murder. he shouldn't have to pay a dime.

  • Go GT Mar 17, 2009

    So she won a civil case... whhoopppeeeee.. did it bring her daughters killer any closer to justice? nah. Just made him owe her money he does not have. Your wasting your time lady- let the police do their thing- if he made one mistake, hopefully they will find it.

  • superman Mar 16, 2009

    You ever watch those court cases on TV. You see people who keep talking and the more than talk the more they convict themselves. Or the more they talk the more information they give and end up losing their case. A good poka player does not reveal his hand --either by showing his cards or expressing emotion. Would you bet against a person who is throwing money into the pot and smiling? Jason is a smart cookie-- keeping away from the police and keeping his mouth shut. He will die an old man playing golf and having fun. The police are not smart enough to catch him. After two years the police probably have this case file under last years to do list.