Jason Young's daughter spoke of him during 911 call
Posted February 8, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — The 2-year-old daughter of Jason and Michelle Young talked about her father during a 911 call on the day her mother was found dead in their home, Michelle Young's sister testified Wednesday.
Jason Young, 37, is facing a retrial in his pregnant wife's Nov. 3, 2006, slaying. A jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict in his first trial in June.
In answering questions from prosecutors and defense attorneys about the call, Meredith Fisher said that, while she was on the phone with 911 that afternoon, her niece was also competing for her attention.
At one point during the call, Fisher asked Cassidy Young if anyone had been in the house. She also told the dispatcher that she wasn't sure the child understood what was really going on.
"What was going on that led you to say that?" Wake County Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt asked.
"Earlier in the phone call, she had referenced her father," Fisher said. "When I asked her further questions, she was saying 'he.'"
"Were you able to talk to Cassidy, and did you try to talk to Cassidy after this phone call to find out what had happened and what she had seen?" Holt asked.
By the end of the phone call to 911, Fisher and the child were outside of the house waiting on emergency workers to arrive.
"When we were in the fire truck, she continued to talk about her father," Fisher said.
A child psychologist was on hand later that night at Fisher's home, she testified. By that time, however, Cassidy "had just kind of shut down."
Wednesday was the first time Fisher has said publicly that her niece referenced her father that day during her interaction with the 911 operator.
She was never asked about it during the testimony in Jason Young's first murder trial.
The state claims that Jason Young traveled to Hillsville, Va., on the night of Nov. 2, 2006, checked into a hotel and left about an hour later. He returned home, killed his wife and drove through the night back to the hotel, prosecutors allege.
Gracie Calhoun, a cashier at the Four Brothers Food Store in King, N.C. – about 120 miles from Raleigh – testified that she had a face-to-face encounter with Jason Young around 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2006 – when he has said he was asleep in his hotel room.
"The guy came in the store, started cussing and everything and threw a $20 at me, told me he was getting $20 and left," Calhoun said.
The man, whom she identified as Jason Young, was upset, she said, because she refused to turn on the gas pump until he paid.
He pulled away in a white SUV and drove around the store past an adjoining McDonald's.
When police paid her a visit three days later and showed her a photo of Jason Young, "I told them he was just in my store a couple days ago."
Prosecutors say the Youngs' marriage was troubled and that Jason Young wanted to maintain a college lifestyle, didn't want to be married and felt pressured to marry Michelle Young when she found out she was pregnant with Cassidy.
Defense attorneys concede that their client was a bad husband but say that he loved his wife and unborn son and did not kill them.
There's no physical evidence connecting him to the killing, they say, and he would not have had the time to commit the crime as the state says he did.
That would include cleaning up Cassidy, whose bloody footprints were found in the bedroom and a hallway bathroom.
Wake County sheriff's deputy Scott Earp – one of two officers first to arrive at the Young house – testified that he was caught off guard when Fisher told him she had not cleaned the girl.
"I think I expected a ‘yes’ out of it," he said Wednesday. "I thought that was kind of odd."
Fisher testified that she found her niece barefoot and wearing pink fleece pajamas – without a diaper or underwear – and that she did not appear to have any blood on her.
Shelly Schaad, a college sorority sister of Michelle Young's, testified that, when Cassidy was put to bed on Nov. 2, 2006, that the child did have on a diaper.
Schaad had planned to be at the home that night to watch "Grey's Anatomy" with her friend while Jason Young was out of town, she said.
But when she arrived around 6:30 p.m., he was still home, and he laid out his plans to her to stop to eat dinner at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Greensboro, then drive halfway to his business meeting, spend the night near Galax, Va., and then continue on the next morning.
At the time, she testified, she didn't think anything of it, "but after the fact, and given everything that's happened," it was out of the ordinary.
"Jason wasn't typically a planner," she said. "He was very last-minute."
Schaad said she was with Michelle Young the night she met Jason Young and that the three were part of a close-knit group of four married couples who saw each other socially after college.
"They were hot or cold. Sometimes they were great, and a lot of times they were fighting," Schaad said of the couple's relationship. "They were not shy about fighting in public, pulling us in the middle of it so much so that it became uncomfortable at times."
Often, she said, they fought about silly things but that Jason Young would also complain about a lack of sex.
"Jason was not shy about telling us his opinion on that," Schaad said.
For a long time, she continued, Michelle Young would argue back. By the night before the killing, however, she had changed.
"She just seemed sad, and to me recently – except for finding out she was pregnant – she just seemed defeated," Schaad said.
But she never saw or heard about any physical assault by Jason Young.
After her friend's death, Schaad initially supported Jason Young, she said, even though there was speculation that he might have been involved.
"I told myself, 'I'm going to support him, and in time, his true colors will show, and it will become apparent,'" she said. "Just over time, there's just a lot of things that happened the day his wife was murdered he can't explain. I mean, how unlucky can one man be?"
She eventually cut off contact.
"I just personally withdrew myself, Schaad said.