State pokes holes in Jason Young's testimony
Posted February 22, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — An investigator testifying in the retrial of Jason Young on Wednesday went after parts of Young's testimony in an effort to prove that he killed his pregnant wife, Michelle Young, on Nov. 3, 2006.
Jurors heard more than three hours of Jason Young's June 22, 2011, account of his marital issues, life with his wife and where he was at the time that prosecutors say he beat her to death and left their 2-year-old daughter alone in the home for hours.
The 37-year-old originally went to trial last June, but a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict. A judge declared a mistrial, and prosecutors are aiming for a second time to win a conviction.
Defense attorneys have said there's no physical evidence linking him to the killing and that he could not have committed the crime in the time frame that the state says he did.
But prosecutors say the Youngs' relationship was riddled with arguments, communication issues and infidelity and that Jason Young felt he had been pressured into marriage and didn't want to be married any longer.
He testified that he was out of town on business and asleep at a Hampton Inn in Hillsville, Va., when his wife was killed. He awoke the next day and continued on his trip to Clintwood, Va.
But Sgt. Richard Spivey of the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, the lead investigator in the case, testified that parts of Jason Young's testimony didn't seem to make sense to detectives.
Jason Young said he was outside the hotel smoking a cigar after he was recorded on security video shortly before midnight on Nov. 2, 2006.
It was 34 degrees and wind speeds were about 21 mph, with wind gusts up to 30 mph, Spivey said. Jason Young didn't have a coat or any other outerwear, and the wind would have been blowing directly at him in the spot where he testified he had been standing.
The next morning, Jason Young said, he had a continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, but he never appeared on the hotel security video of the breakfast area, Spivey said.
Investigators were never able to find what appeared to be a dark blue shirt that Jason Young had been wearing in hotel security video. The shirt, Spivey said, was different than one Young was wearing in a March 2007 photo, which defense attorneys suggested in the first trial was the shirt.
Prosecutors said they believe that, about an hour after he checked into the hotel, Jason Young unplugged a security camera in a stairwell and propped open an emergency exit using a rock so that he could get back inside without being detected.
He drove 169 miles back to Raleigh, killed his wife and returned to Hillsville, stopping along the way to get gasoline – about 45 minutes away from the hotel.
By the time he returned sometime after 6 a.m., hotel employees had kicked the rock from the door and reconnected the camera. A side door next to the emergency exit – locked from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. – had been unlocked.
On Spivey's cross-examination, defense attorneys said Jason Young wasn't familiar with the hotel's layout or security camera system and was never videotaped looking at the cameras or security monitors at the front desk.
Jason Young testified that he never spoke about the case to anyone, including investigators, on the advice of his attorney. When asked by his attorney how his life had been affected by his wife's death, Jason Young said that he "lost everything" – family, friends and jobs.
Prosecutor Howard Cummings pointed out Wednesday that Jason Young never mentioned his wife in that response.
The state also contends that he gave up custody of his daughter, Cassidy, to his sister-in-law to avoid answering questions under oath about his wife's death.
Jason Young testified that he couldn't "financially fight" a battle with his in-laws.
Spivey, however, said that Jason Young had access to more than $70,000 in equity loans and retirement savings and that he gave his mother and sister each checks for $6,000 during the time of the dispute.
In regard to the last time he spoke to his wife, Jason Young testified that he couldn't remember what they had talked about. Cummings and Spivey noted that the couple's phone conversation on the night of Nov. 2, 2006, lasted less than five minutes.
But he talked on the phone several times and much longer to a woman with whom he was having an extramarital relationship.