Day care teachers recall doll play by Youngs' daughter
Posted February 20, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Jurors in the retrial of Jason Young heard testimony Monday from day care teachers who watched his 2-year-old daughter playing with dolls and re-enacting her mother's beating death six days after the crime.
"I noticed her playing with two dolls and a chair and the doll house," said Ashley Palmatier, who worked five years ago at Country Sunshine Children's Center in Raleigh. "She was striking one doll with the other doll and the chair, and she told me, ‘Mommy has boo-boos all over her.’"
Palmatier and Brooke Bass, another teacher, described one doll as being female with brown hair in a ponytail. Cassidy Young referred to that doll as "mommy."
The other doll was of an older woman with short, light-colored hair. She was wearing a purple jumpsuit. The child never identified that doll.
"While she was hitting the doll, she said, 'Mommy's getting a spanking for biting,’” Palmatier said. "Then, when she laid the doll down is when she said, 'Mommy has boo-boos all over. Mommy has red stuff all over.'"
Cassidy Young was found hiding under the covers of her parents' bed on Friday, Nov. 3, 2006, when her mother Michelle Young's body was found facedown in blood in the second-floor master bedroom of their home at 5108 Birchleaf Drive in Raleigh.
Jason Young, 37, was arrested three years later in his wife's death. His first trial ended in a mistrial last summer after the jury could not reach a verdict in the case.
He has said that he was out of town at the time of the crime and had nothing to do with her death.
Palmatier and Bass were not called as witnesses in Jason Young's first trial.
Defense attorneys on Friday objected to their testimony, but Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens allowed it, instructing jurors Monday that they could only consider it in determining whether Cassidy Young saw the crime.
They can't, however, use the testimony as evidence of the person who caused Michelle Young's death, Stephens said.
The teachers, as well as Stephanie Giles – a teacher at Country Sunshine who also babysat for the Youngs – testified that Cassidy, at the time, was advanced for her age, that she knew her numbers, colors and alphabet and was fully potty-trained during the day.
"She was a very, very bright little girl," Palmatier said. "Every Monday, during our circle time, we would have a chance for the kids to tell us what they did over the weekend. She would recount in full detail what she did, where she went and who she was with."
She was also very social and loved playing with her friends, but after returning to school the Monday after her mother's death, she was withdrawn.
"Usually, she was always playing with one or two other kids, but she kept to herself," Palmatier said.
Jurors also heard Monday from Beth Whitney, a computer forensics examiner with the City-County Bureau of Identification, who testified that she found searches on the Youngs' home computer for the terms "anatomy of a knockout," "head trauma blackout," "head blow knockout" and "head trauma."
Whitney, however, was unable to determine when the searches were made or who made them.
During his first trial, Jason Young admitted to searching for the terms to find out if he could have done more to help a car wreck victim earlier that year who appeared to have injuries to his head.
Defense attorneys say Michelle Young's killer has never been caught. There's no physical evidence linking their client to the crime, and they say it's not possible for Jason Young to have committed it in the time that the state contends he did.
Jason Young has said he was sleeping in a Virginia hotel at the time of the crime, but prosecutors claim he drove home in the middle of the night, killed his wife and returned to the hotel.
Monday marked the 11th day of testimony. If convicted, Jason Young faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.