Michelle Young

Young defense casts doubt on state's case

Posted February 28, 2012
Updated February 29, 2012

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— Defense attorneys trying to keep Jason Young from spending life in prison for his pregnant wife's high-profile murder spent Tuesday calling several witnesses aimed at casting reasonable doubt on the state's case.

Cindy Beaver Jason Young retrial (Day 17)

Cindy Beaver, a resident in the Enchanted Oaks subdivision where Jason and Michelle Young lived, said she was driving to work around 5:20 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2006, when she noticed a vehicle pulling out of the driveway of the couple's home with a white male driver and a passenger whom she thought was a woman.

Beaver went on to work and didn't think anything of it, she testified. When she returned home later that day, she noticed emergency workers and police cars outside the home and a young woman, holding a child, crying.

She thought someone had died that afternoon, she said. It wasn't until days later – she said she didn't pay attention to the news – when coworkers were talking about the case that she connected the two events.

Meredith Fisher, Linda Fisher Images: Jason Young retrial

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings suggested that she had the day wrong.

"I drive by that driveway every day of my life just about, and there is no doubt," Beaver said of her testimony Tuesday afternoon. "It's been five or six years, and it's something you desperately try to forget."

Prosecutors contend that Jason Young, 37, beat Michelle Young to death in the bedroom of their Raleigh home at 5108 Birchleaf Drive and left their 2-year-old daughter alone in the house.

Meredith Fisher went to the house later that day at the request of her brother-in-law and found her pregnant sister facedown in a pool of blood.

Jason Young, who was arrested more than three years later, has said he was in Virginia on business and asleep at a Hampton Inn approximately 169 miles from Raleigh when his wife was killed. He went to trial last summer but the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict, voting 8-4 in favor of acquittal.

Pat Young Young defense casts doubt on state's case

Defense attorneys, who could rest their case as early as Wednesday, say that their client did not kill his wife, that there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime and that it could not have happened in the time frame put forth by the state.

Fay Hinsley, another resident of Enchanted Oaks, also testified that she was leaving her home around 6:15 a.m. that morning when she saw what she described as possibly being a blue or gray SUV that looked as it if were going to pull out in front of her.

"All of a sudden, there was this little car sitting there right on the edge where the crack of the cement and driveway connect," Hinsley said.

But she admitted she didn't know the address and wasn't sure about the make or model of the vehicle. On cross-examination, she said she saw the vehicle not on Birchleaf Drive but on nearby Enchanted Oaks Drive.

Hinsley's charm and personality during her testimony brought light moments in the courtroom and drew laughter from many, including defense attorneys, the judge and the defendant, after more than two hours of Cummings' intense cross-examination of Jason Young's mother, Pat Young.

Young Trial recap: Day 17 Young Trial recap: Day 17

Pat Young revealed that the family found a cigar humidor when they cleaned out the Young home after the murder.

The testimony bolstered part of her son's alibi in which he testified that, after being seen on hotel security video shortly before midnight on Nov. 2, that he went outside to smoke a cigar.

Prosecutors say that he hated cigarette smoke and that he really left the hotel to return to Raleigh to kill his wife.

Witnesses also testified that they had never seen Jason Young smoke a cigar and that he indicated on a life insurance application in 2006 that he hadn't smoked in the year prior.

Also helping the defense was Steve Hale, a private investigator, who tested the door of Jason Young's hotel room. Hale corroborated Jason Young's testimony that he didn't need to use his electronic key because the door didn't fully close.

Hotel records showed he used the card only once during his stay. The state's theory is that he somehow prevented the room door from locking, and used a landscaping rock to prop open an emergency exit he used to go outside.

Hale said that his tests showed the room door did not always close completely and that its bolt sometimes kept it from locking.

The emergency exit, Hale said, could be kept open using a twig, which Jason Young has said he used.

Prosecutors spent 15 days trying to prove that Jason Young killed his wife because he didn't want to be married or have a family. They have said that he cheated on his wife, partied, drank and gambled and wanted to spend time with his friends instead of his wife. Witnesses have described the couple as having a "volatile" relationship.

In one of several interviews with investigators, friend Brian Ambrose described Jason Young as a "manipulator."

Ambrose testified Tuesday for the defense about plans the two had made for a football game on Nov. 4, 2006.

"He has that personality where he can convince people to do things that might not necessarily be what they want to do," Ambrose said on cross-examination. "He was the fun person, the partygoer. The person everybody wanted to be around."

Ambrose said he never discussed with his friend anything about Michelle Young's death or about the murder investigation.

"I don't think I ever just point-blanked asked him, 'What do you think happened?'" he said. "I remember being frustrated in that I kind of expected him to talk about it and he never did. Just like everybody, we wanted to know something."

"Did he respond to you?" prosecutor Becky Holt asked.

"I don't recall what his response was. He never got into any kind of depth or detail about anything associated with the case," Ambrose said. "The only time when he would talk about it, he would talk about his frustrations with how everybody's hounding him and his family - the media and stuff like that."

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  • dollibug Mar 1, 2012

    Do not know about anyone else....but I am glad that this is over with....it is what it is....again....I say NOT GUILTY....and before 5 tomorrow.....

  • dollibug Mar 1, 2012

    ++++And again, if things are as bad as that "article" claimed, it would be addressed. To my knowledge, there have been no allegations of corruption or cover-up in the Wake County DA's office, other than from folks on here. forautumn

    Too funny.....are you from NC?

  • jackcdneh1017 Mar 1, 2012

    And again, if things are as bad as that "article" claimed, it would be addressed. To my knowledge, there have been no allegations of corruption or cover-up in the Wake County DA's office, other than from folks on here. forautumn

    This is too funny. Allegations against DA's , wrongful convictions, shoddy police work have been rampant for years. Alan Gell Gregory Taylor, Mike Nifong, Tracey Cline, Judge Debra Sasser, Judge Paul Gessner, Bradley Cooper etc all have been making headlines. Even the Attorney General has gotten into the act. Jailhouse assaults, police corruption etc all there. Some folks try to make all their judgements on circumstantial evidence. I am okay with that. But the circumstantial evidence in recent years points to prosecutions that are dishonest. Just cause the good old boys in NC and particularly Wake County are slow to do something about it, doesn't mean its not an issue. Next door in Durham they are showing how difficult it is to change things.

  • dollibug Feb 29, 2012

    +++++ am from out of state (registered a long time ago for another case) and I can say, yeah your investigators look like imbeciles. Sorry.
    Furious

    Yep....it is kind of sad...to say the very least....this is just the "tip" of the iceberg though...http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-736024

  • believerofjustice Feb 29, 2012

    i think what it boils down to..is rather then let the case go unsolved, they gathered enough "CIRCUMSTANSTIAL" evidence to get Jason, which i would call more "lazy", THEN anything else

  • bitsyfae1 Feb 29, 2012

    I dunno, I kinda liked SLUM dunk! LOL

  • Furious Feb 29, 2012

    I am from out of state (registered a long time ago for another case) and I can say, yeah your investigators look like imbeciles. Sorry.

  • abylelab -BT- Feb 29, 2012

    ++Slam Dunk...is what I meant...
    dollibug++

    but SLUM DUNK was so much funnier...

  • dollibug Feb 29, 2012

    Slam Dunk...is what I meant...

  • dollibug Feb 29, 2012

    ++++canucmypointofview - 8 women, 4 men
    buford

    I hope at least a couple of them has paid attention to this entire trial...and have been able to keep up with all of the information which has been laid out for them....

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