Defense paints picture of a grieving Jason Young
Posted February 27, 2012
Updated February 28, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Defense attorneys on Monday painted a starkly different picture than prosecutors did of Jason Young's reaction to his pregnant wife's beating death more than five years ago.
He had just finished a business trip when he arrived at his parents' home in Brevard, N.C. on the afternoon of Nov. 3, 2006.
Michelle Young – five months' pregnant with their second child, a boy to be named Rylan – had been found dead hours earlier inside the couple's Raleigh home. Their 2-year-old daughter, Cassidy, had been hiding beneath the covers on her father's side of the bed.
Jason Young's mother, Pat Young, and stepfather, Gerald McIntyre, both testified during their son's first-degree murder trial that they had been waiting for him to get to their house to break the news.
They didn't want to tell him while he was driving.
He had gotten out of his white 2004 Ford Explorer and walked only a couple of feet before he could tell something was wrong.
"I told him, 'Michelle is dead,'" McIntyre said. "If I hadn't got ahold of him, he would have gone plumb to the ground, face-first."
"How did he look?" defense attorney Bryan Collins asked.
"Awful," McIntyre replied. "How do you look when somebody tells you your wife and youngin' is dead?"
"You saw the color just drain from his face," Pat Young testified. "He just started going down. He started crying. He asked about Cassidy."
By the time they got to Michelle Young's sister's home in Fuquay-Varina that night, they had been bombarded with calls – including one from a friend advising Jason Young not to talk to law enforcement until he had talked to an attorney.
"They were saying the police officer or detectives were asking some disturbing questions regarding Jason," his sister, Heather McCracken testified.
Jason Young never talked to investigators, despite numerous requests that evening and later on, he has said, because his lawyer told him not to do so.
Prosecutors trying for a second time to win a murder conviction point to his unwillingness to cooperate in the murder investigation as a sign that he was involved in Michelle Young's death.
Their evidence is contrary to what the defense offered Monday.
Michelle Young's sister testified for the state that Jason Young appeared to be sobbing when she hugged him late on the evening of Nov. 3, 2006, but that his face wasn't wet.
Others testified that, at Michelle Young's wake, he wasn't crying and didn't seem as sad as one would expect. McCracken, however, described her brother that night as being distraught.
"I feel like he was shut down," she said.
At Michelle Young's casket, "He went down on his knees and kind of patted and rubbed Michelle's stomach, and then he put his head down and cried for a little bit," McCracken said.
Jason Young was arrested three years later in the case and first went to trial last summer. Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens declared a mistrial after a jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.
Prosecutors formally rested their case Monday morning in the retrial after 15 days of testimony in which they tried to prove that Jason Young was a bad husband who felt pressured into marriage, cheated on his wife and killed her because he didn't want to be married any longer.
His attorneys say that there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime and that, although he might not have been a proper husband, that does not mean he killed his wife.
Their first witness Monday was David Dicks, a state trooper who investigated a Memorial Day weekend wreck involving the Youngs in 2006, in which their SUV ran off a road, down an embankment and into the French Broad River.
Michelle Young, several witnesses have testified, had been pregnant at the time and had a miscarriage several days later. Prosecutors implied through several witnesses that the wreck might not have been an accident.
But Dicks said that he found no evidence that warranted further investigation of the crash and that he found nothing inconsistent with the Youngs' statements.
Michelle Young, he said, reported that she was wearing her seat belt at the time. Other witnesses testified that she said she had taken off the seat belt to get something from the back seat when her husband lost control of the vehicle.
Keith Patterson, with AT&T, also testified Monday that several cellphone calls Jason Young made to his mother on the afternoon of Nov. 3, 2006, could have been due to bad cellphone reception in the mountains of Virginia.
A Wake County sheriff's investigator who testified for the state described six calls to Pat Young from 12:03 p.m. to 12:09 p.m. as possibly being "panic calls."
The state contends that Jason Young left Cassidy Young in the house alone and has suggested that he was trying to get in touch with his mother to help make sure that someone got to the home to make sure the child was safe.
Jason Young testified in his first trial that he was in Virginia on business and was sleeping in a hotel room 169 miles from Raleigh when Michelle Young was killed.
He has said that he had no involvement in her death and doesn't know who killed her.