Teacher: Daughter re-enacted Michelle Young's death with dolls
Posted February 17, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — What might Jason and Michelle Young's 2-year-old daughter have seen at the time of her pregnant mother's beating death?
Prosecutors trying her father for a second time on a first-degree murder charge in the case asked a judge Friday to allow jurors to hear testimony about Cassidy Young's behavior and statements several days after the crime.
Outside the jury's presence Friday afternoon, a day care worker testified that she observed the child playing with two dolls and that she used one doll to hit the other.
"She was hitting the mommy doll with the other doll and the (dollhouse) chair," Ashley Palmatier said. "She began to say that mommy's getting a spanking for biting, and she also said that mommy has boo-boos all over."
But Cassidy – now 7 and living with her mother's sister – never identified the other doll, Palmatier said.
Later that day, Cassidy awoke from a nap and told her teacher that her mommy fell on the floor and had boo-boos.
"It stopped making sense," Palmatier said. "She talked about animals in the barn, and they were hungry, and she jumped to, 'Daddy bought me new fruit snacks.'"
Michelle Young was 29 years old and five months' pregnant when her body was discovered facedown in a pool of blood in the upstairs bedroom of the couple's Raleigh home on Nov. 3, 2006.
Cassidy was found unharmed underneath the covers on her father's side of the bed. A baby doll had been placed by her mother's head, and her bloody footprints were found throughout the crime scene.
In a 911 recording, the child can be heard talking about her mother. Michelle Young's sister testified that she had also spoken about her father and continued to do so after the call.
Jason Young has said he was in Virginia on business at the time of the crime, and his attorneys have said there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime.
He was arrested in December 2009 and went on trial last summer, but Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens declared a mistrial after a jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.
Palmatier's testimony wasn't introduced in Jason Young's first trial, and Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings told Stephens Friday that its purpose is not to show what Cassidy saw. It is to show that she witnessed events related to Michelle Young's death and that the killer could have harmed her but chose not to do so, he said.
Stephens ruled to allow the testimony regarding Cassidy's actions and statements prior to the nap but ruled that those after she woke up were inadmissible.
"I'm comfortable with this ruling. This conduct is consistent with acting out and relating to a traumatic event," Stephens said. "When a child wakes up from a nap and makes statements, they may not be."
Defense attorneys had objected to the testimony, saying that it was hearsay and that there could be questions regarding the child's competency because of her age.
Friday, which would have been Michelle Young's 35th birthday, marked the 10th day of testimony in Young's retrial.
Andy Parker, a latent prints analyst with the City-County Bureau of Identification, testified earlier in the day that two sets of prints found at the crime scene were of particular interest to investigators.
One was a partial palm print on the molding of Jason Young's closet door, Parker said.
The second set was two fingerprints from the left hand found on drywall 56 inches from the ground and 8 inches to the left of the doorframe. Parker said there wasn't enough detail to the prints to identify them but said enough detail was present that they couldn't be ruled out as belonging to Jason Young.
Karen Morrow, an analyst with the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab, testified that she found two sets of shoeprints on pillowcases and sheets of paper found in the Youngs' bedroom.
One set was consistent to outsoles on a size 10 Franklin shoe and the other prints were similar to a Hush Puppies brand men's shoe that had been discontinued.
Detectives had determined that one of the Youngs had purchased a pair of Hush Puppies Orbitals, which shared the same outsole, but investigators have never been able to find those shoes.
Michael Smith, an agent with the SBI's computer crimes unit, also testified about two emails he recovered from Jason Young's laptop, including one to former fiancée Genevieve Cargol.
Cargol testified Thursday that Jason Young attacked her in 1999 during an argument and that he tried to remove her engagement ring from her finger, leaving her with a cut on her hand and bruises on her arms and rib cage.
She broke off the engagement a couple weeks later and ceased regular contact with him, only communicating with him a few other times over the next few years.
In the email, sent at 5:32 a.m. on Sept. 12, 2006, Jason Young wrote that he had dreams about her that were like "brief visits" that "make me feel whole and complete again."
"I just need to open my heart for a minute to tell you how I feel because the possibility of leaving this world without expressing your love and passion would be a travesty," the email says.
He goes on to profess his love for her:
"I have got so much I want to say, but it would just come out as an incoherent mess, so I will leave it at this: I love you Genevieve Ann Jacobs Cargol. I know that it is inappropriate for a married man to be saying to a married woman, but I do. I always have and I always will."
Prosecutors contend that Jason Young felt that he was pressured into marrying his wife when she found out she was pregnant with Cassidy and that he didn't want to settle down into a family lifestyle.
Witnesses have testified that he was immature, drank too much, spent his time with friends and cheated on his wife.
They have also testified that the Youngs' arguing was so bad that the pair could communicate effectively only over email.
Defense attorneys fighting to keep their client from spending the rest of his life in prison have admitted that he was far from a good husband and that he acted like an "obnoxious jerk."
But, they have said, that does not mean that he killed his wife.