Testimony brings new revelations in Young murder trial
Posted February 10, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Michelle Young sought therapy before her death in an effort to "get her life and herself straightened out," a licensed therapist testified Friday in the first-degree murder trial of her husband, Jason Young.
"She cried from the time she started talking until she left the office," Kimball Sargent said of the Oct. 27, 2006, visit. "I let her cry it out and gave her support. I felt like that's where we had to start – with her letting all this sadness out."
It was seven days later that the 29-year-old's body was found on the floor in a pool of blood in her Raleigh home. The pregnant mother had been beaten numerous times in the head and suffered at least 30 distinct blows, if not more, according to the state medical examiner.
Jason Young, 37, was arrested more than three years later in the case. He is on trial for a second time after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict in his first trial last summer. Defense attorneys say there's no physical evidence linking him to the crime.
Sargent, who didn't testify in the first trial, said Friday that Michelle Young was stressed and sought individual help on how to deal with the problems in her marriage.
"She was very anxious over the fact that she was pregnant and their marriage was in some real trouble," Sargent said.
Arguing between the couple had gotten so bad, Sargent said, that the two were able to communicate effectively only over email.
The issues, Michelle Young told her, ranged from Jason Young's drinking and partying to the couple's finances to a lack of sex in the marriage – an issue about which Jason Young complained publicly.
"He would talk about it in what she described as a blaming way, and that was very hurtful to her," Sargent said.
"She felt somewhat inadequate. There was a problem in the fact that she had been sexually assaulted in college and had sex forced on her," Sargent continued. "She felt like, when she was having sex with Jason, that he was forcing himself on her."
On cross-examination, Sargent said that, despite talk about Jason Young having anger issues, Michelle Young never reported any physical abuse in the relationship.
As part of a treatment plan, she sent Michelle Young away that day with the task of figuring out what she wanted her life to look like over the next three to five years.
Couple's counseling, however, wasn't part of that plan, she said.
"My assessment of the situation was that she was being verbally abused, and you cannot treat a woman who is being verbally abused in marital therapy," Sargent said.
Michelle Young left that day with plans to call back for another appointment, Sargent said, but she never did.
Testifying earlier Friday, Linda Fisher, Michelle Young’s mother and a retired New York teacher, said her daughter had become increasingly sad and introverted in the months leading up to her death.
"She was always peppy and alive and smiling. We would always have a lot of fun together," Fisher told jurors.
On the last visit she had with her daughter, less than a month before the killing, that had changed, she said.
"I distinctively remember that I was downstairs, and she had her head in my lap, and I was stroking her hair," Fisher said. "I just felt like she was totally void of life."
Fisher was a constant source of tension in the couple's marriage, the state said in opening statements Monday.
Michelle Young had devised a plan to cut back her hours at work when her second child was born, but the plan included Fisher moving to North Carolina to help care for the children.
In addition, the Youngs had disagreed about their upcoming holiday plans and how Fisher, who was close to her daughter, fit into them, Michelle Young's longtime friend, Jennifer Powers, testified.
Jason Young, who witnesses have testified didn't get along his mother-in-law, didn't want her around for an extended visit, Powers said, reading from an Oct. 4, 2006, email that Michelle Young had forwarded from her husband.
"Our marriage has seen better days, and I don't see it trending up," Jason Young said in the message.
Powers also testified that her friend confided in her when she was pregnant with her first child that "Jason wants me to abort the baby."
A week or two later, though, Michelle Young called her and said they were engaged, Powers testified.
Prosecutors say that Jason Young never wanted to be exclusive and felt pressured into marrying his wife and starting a family.
The two married Aug. 12, 2003, in front of a Wake County magistrate and had a traditional ceremony two months later, Fisher said.
In her testimony, Fisher also described fighting between the couple, specifically on Oct. 12, 2006, following a belated anniversary dinner between the couple.
"Michelle was the only one who came into the house. She was crying and very upset," Fisher said. "She was telling me that she and Jason had a fight and that he took off, and she was going to go out and find him."
When they both returned home that night, "there was a screaming match and doors slamming," Fisher said. "You could not (not) overhear."
It was the last visit she had with her daughter.
The next time she was in North Carolina, it was when her daughter had been killed.
"I just couldn't understand," Fisher said. "I did not shed a tear. I could not grasp the fact that Michelle was dead."
She called her son-in-law twice after finding out and left him voicemails asking him to call her back. She didn't hear from him until later that night, when they both arrived at Michelle Young's sister's house.
"When I saw him, he looked like a 5-year-old boy. It was strange to see what he looked like," Fisher said. "The house felt cold. There was a distance."
The two spoke some.
"He said two things that I can clearly remember," Fisher said. "One was 'My lawyer told me that I couldn't talk to anyone, not even you.'"
The other statement, she said: "I’m going to take a hit on the house."
Fisher said she was in disbelief.
"All I'm thinking is, 'Michelle is dead,'" she said.