State paints Jason Young marriage as troubled
Posted February 6, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Prosecutors getting their second chance to try a Raleigh man on a first-degree murder charge in the brutal beating death of his pregnant wife, Michelle Young, described his marriage as being in trouble in the weeks and months prior to her killing.
Jason Young's first trial ended in a mistrial last June after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict in the case.
During her opening statement Monday morning, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt told jurors that those marital problems, in part, stemmed from Jason Young, 37, not being ready for a life that included two children, and that had become an increasing source of friction between the couple.
Michelle Young, 29, "wanted the white picket fence, the home, the family" – an idea to which her husband was resistant, Holt said.
"He was the free spirit. The adventure lover. The irresponsible. The immature. The life of the party. The jokester. The salesman," she said.
"According to friends and family members, he was stuck in the college life," she continued. "He would go to parties. He would get drunk … He wanted to do things with the guys."
There were also other problems in the marriage.
Tension between Jason Young and his mother-in-law was often the source of conflict as the couple prepared for the birth of their second child, Rylan.
Michelle Young had talked about her mother moving in with them to help care for the children, but Jason Young adamantly opposed the idea, Michelle Young's sister, Meredith Fisher testified.
"It was strained, at best," Fisher said of the relationship between her mother and brother-in-law. "They did not get along. He did not want her in the house."
Fisher testified that she often served as an intermediary between her sister and Jason Young, sitting with them to get them to talk about their marriage and their issues.
"Just a little fight would turn into silent treatment for days. They didn't know how to get along," she said. "I can think of more times that they fought than they got along."
Jason Young also complained about a lack of sex in the couple's marriage, Fisher testified, and Holt said he had been having an affair with his wife's sorority sister.
Two months before his wife's death, she said, he had reached out to an old girlfriend in an email in which he described her as the love of his life.
Two days before her death, Holt said, Michelle Young confided to her sister about a fight in which her husband had thrown the TV remote control at her and was giving her the silent treatment.
"She told Meredith, 'I'm done,'" Holt said.
It was on Nov. 3, 2006, that Fisher found her sister in a pool of blood in the master bedroom of the couple's home.
"It was a brutal, personal beating," Holt said.
Michelle Young suffered at least 30 distinct blows to her head, and an autopsy revealed that someone had also tried to strangle her.
Cassidy Young, the Youngs' 2-year-old daughter, was hiding beneath the covers of her parents' bed.
"(Fisher) found little footprints by Michelle Young who lay facedown on the floor of her bedroom. Little footprints in blood around Michelle's head," Holt said. "She found baby dolls – a baby doll by Michelle's head, another baby doll in the bed. A blanket. And she heard Cassidy say, 'Mommy got boo boos.'"
There were no signs of forced entry. Aside from Michelle Young's wedding rings and two drawers from a jewelry box in the bedroom, there was nothing missing from the home.
The state contends that Jason Young, a medical software salesman at the time, had left for Hillsville, Va., on the night of Nov. 2 and checked into a Hampton Inn hotel but drove back to Raleigh to kill his wife.
He never asked about the murder investigation and never talked about the case. He refused to answer questions from investigators, family and friends. In fact, Holt said, he gave up custody of his daughter and defaulted on a wrongful death lawsuit to keep from doing so.
Jason Young finally spoke, she said, 1,693 days later, when he testified in his first trial – a move some attorneys say likely played into the jury being unable to reach a verdict – and it's evidence that Holt said jurors in his second trial will get to hear.
During the defense's opening statement, attorney Mike Klinkosum didn't dispute the state's claims about the Youngs’ marriage but said Jason Young did not kill his wife and that prosecutors weren't telling the whole story.
"I am not here to tell you that he was a good husband. He was far from it," he said. "You are going to hear about sexist remarks, juvenile behavior. You are going to hear that he acted like an obnoxious jerk."
The state's case, he said, although full of emotional evidence, lacks any physical evidence tying Jason Young to the crime.
"This puzzle that the prosecution talked to you about – Jason does not fit into it," he said.
There were DNA and fingerprints in the home, including evidence from the jewelry box, that match neither Jason Young, his wife nor more than 100 other people associated with the case.
There were bloody shoe prints, Klinkosum said, that the state could not definitively link to Jason Young, and there was no blood found in the downstairs of the couple's house or in Jason Young's SUV.
"Jason Young did not kill Michelle Young," he said. "He did not kill their unborn son, and this case has not been solved, ever."