Michelle Young

Young guilty of pregnant wife's death; justice served, family says

Posted March 5, 2012

— After nearly 10 hours of deliberation, a Wake County jury on Monday found Jason Young guilty of first-degree murder in the 2006 death of his wife, Michelle Marie Fisher Young.

Meredith Fisher, Linda Fisher Images: Jason Young retrial

The 29-year-old was five months' pregnant with her second child when she was found Nov. 3, 2006, beaten to death and lying facedown in a pool of blood in the bedroom of the couple's Raleigh home. An autopsy found she had suffered at least 30 distinct blows to her body.

Jason Lynn Young, 37, was arrested in December 2009 and originally went to trial last summer, but that jury deadlocked, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial.

A first-degree murder conviction means an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Shortly after sentencing, Jason Young was taken to Central Prison in Raleigh, where he will stay until he's placed into the state prison system.

Jason Young murder trial Complete coverage: Michelle Young murder case

Jason Young, who did not address the court, showed no emotion and sat expressionless as Superior Court Judge Stephens read the verdict to a packed courtroom.

Michelle Young's family, meanwhile, cried and hugged one another. They declined to comment on the verdict, saying only that they were "happy that justice has been served."

"They've been seeking justice for Michelle for almost six years, and now they feel like they have that," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said following the verdict. "They feel like the jury has spoken the truth, and they are relieved."

"This has been a long hard path for the family of Michelle Young," prosecutor Becky Holt added. "What sometimes gets lost in the coverage is that this is a real life that was lost."

Neither Jason Young's family nor attorneys had any comment.

Jason Young murder trial verdict Jason Young murder trial verdict

Stephens said during sentencing that the evidence suggested that Jason Young had significant mental health and anger management issues, as well as issues involving women – "an unmistakable pattern of domestic violence."

"If, on Nov. 2, 2006, Michelle Young had called the police and had reported that her husband had beaten her – and if police had responded and found her with missing teeth and a broken nose and black eyes – no one that this couple knew, including their closest friends, would have been surprised," Stephens said. "So why would anyone be surprised when Michelle Young was found beaten to death? The pattern is the same."

Monday's verdict by the jury of eight women and four men came after 18 days of testimony in which prosecutors sought to prove that Michelle Young’s death was the result of a volatile relationship. Jason Young wanted out of his marriage, the state said, and when the opportunity presented itself, he acted on the chance to kill his wife.

Special report: Jason Young retrial Special report: Jason Young retrial

"This woman wasn't just murdered, she suffered a beating the likes of which we seldom see. This woman was punished," Stephens said. "The assailant struck her over 30 times with a weapon of some sort, and she was undoubtedly unconscious after the second or third blow.

"But it would appear that the evidence suggests the assailant continued to beat her until he was exhausted. Only then did he stop beating her, because he didn't have the strength to strike her anymore."

On the night before Michelle Young’s death, Jason Young traveled to Virginia and checked into a Hampton Inn 169 miles from Raleigh. The state contended that, about an hour later, he unplugged a security camera in a stairwell and propped open an emergency exit so that he could get back inside without being detected and without using his electronic key card.

Jason Young found guilty of first-degree murder Jason Young found guilty of first-degree murder

Jason Young testified in his first trial that he had nothing to do with the crime and was asleep in his hotel room when Michelle Young was murdered and their 2-year-old daughter was left alone in the home.

He did not take the stand in his retrial.

Defense attorneys argued that there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime and that unidentified fingerprints and DNA were found in the couple's bedroom.

Detectives, the defense said, focused on Jason Young early in the investigation and ignored evidence that did not fit their theory that he was the culprit.

But Cummings said that, even though evidence was lacking, it was clear Jason Young was responsible for Michelle Young's death.

“The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” Cummings said.

He likened the case to a puzzle with some missing pieces. Despite the holes, the picture is still clear beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors, however, were unable to prove their case last summer when a deadlocked jury voted 8-4 in favor of acquittal after more than 12 hours of deliberation.

"We tried to give this jury more information so that they could make the decision, and they did," Holt said.

The state called more witnesses to testify, including a therapist who said she thought Michelle Young had been verbally abused, and a day care worker who testified that she saw the Youngs' daughter re-enacting her mother's death with dolls.

The state contended that the child witnessed the crime and that there must have been a special relationship between her and the killer for her to remain unharmed.

They showed the jury videotapes of Jason Young's testimony in his first trial and worked methodically to poke holes in his alibi.

"We worked hard. What we tried to do was to dig through everybody that had ever been interviewed to try to give the jury more information so they could decide," Cummings said. "Obviously, we wanted them to find him guilty, but we wanted (jurors) to have all the information so they wouldn't be back (in the jury room) and be in a position of not knowing."

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said investigators worked tirelessly on the case and that he always believed there was enough circumstantial evidence to prove that Jason Young was involved in his wife's death.

"We tried to uncover everything we could, but trying to convince a jury, sometimes, is a hard time when you don't have that smoking gun," he said.

The guilty verdict culminated five years of investigation and work by Harrison's office, the Wake County District Attorney's Office, City-County Bureau of Identification, State Bureau of Investigation, FBI and other agencies and organizations.

"I wouldn't be able to tell you how many hours we spent on this case," Harrison said. "To make that arrest, that's what it took to get there. We were proud when we got to that point, and now, we're proud that we've brought some closure to this family. I mean it was a brutal killing."

Harrison, who has kept a photo of Michelle Young on his desk since the first day of the investigation, said his office worked on the case daily.

"It's something we're glad is behind us. We think justice has been served, and we need to move on," he said. "In my mind, there's no one else could have done it but him. I'm relieved it's over."

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  • foghat001 Mar 14, 5:06 p.m.

    THANK YOU, jurists, for coming to the correct decision and finding this murderer guilty.

    It was a long time coming. Perhaps the family can now move on in some way.

  • scarlett2 Mar 9, 7:51 p.m.

    I feel that everything the judge stated was correct about what happened to MY. The evidence fit his behavior and his past behavior towards women. She was murdered by her husband. It was a marriage that escalated into domestic violence and she died as a result of his rage and anger. He deserves the death penalty for his crimes; he killed her and her unborn son. May God bring peace to her family.

  • poogpoog2 Mar 8, 9:51 a.m.

    There's something happening here
    What it is ain't exactly clear
    There's a man with a gun over there
    Telling me I got to beware
    I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down
    There's battle lines being drawn Nobody's right if everybody's wrong Young people speaking their minds Getting so much resistance from behind I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound Everybody look what's going down What a field-day for the heat A thousand people in the street Singing songs and carrying signs Mostly say, hooray for our side It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound Everybody look what's going down Paranoia strikes deep Into your life it will creep It starts when you're always afraid You step out of line, the man come and take you away We better stop, hey, what's that sound Everybody look what's going down Stop, hey, what's that sound Everybody look what's going down Stop, now, what's that sound Everybody look what's going down Stop, children, what's

  • Obamadoesntcare Mar 7, 3:08 p.m.

    Justice in NC now nothing more than a punchline. It's neighbourhood justice by committee. Not far off from the good old boys lynching mentality. No need for actual evidence, just a few pictures of the puzzle needed and the brilliant folks in NC can fill in the blanks. What a joke!

    Yeap isn't it wonderful

  • jackcdneh1017 Mar 6, 7:04 p.m.

    Justice in NC now nothing more than a punchline. It's neighbourhood justice by committee. Not far off from the good old boys lynching mentality. No need for actual evidence, just a few pictures of the puzzle needed and the brilliant folks in NC can fill in the blanks. What a joke!

  • Furious Mar 6, 6:59 p.m.

    I am not sure if Jason committed this crime, I do know the state didn't prove it though. I am really curious how many posters actually watched the trial, I see people saying he beat Michelle, NO ONE has ever said he beat on his wife before this crime. Where do you guys come up with this stuff?

    I will wait for the appeal. I really want to find out about the Facebook posting during the trial by a friend of the juror who had inside info, juror misconduct. Before you say that was a hoax based on how many people went and looked at the evidence I am the one who wondered if that was why 3 people didn't go down and look AFTER it was posted that 3 didn't get out of the box and look. So the suggestion happened after the statement about Facebook.

  • dollibug Mar 6, 6:11 p.m.

    +++++DW surely you can't mean that those who don't agree with you are 'plastic' anymore than I find those in fantasyland, who think jy innocent. jamLI47
    jmcintee

    I do not think it really has a lot to even do with JY....but instead it has a lot of do with the NC Judicial System and what happened in this trial....a person....any person is supposed to be innocent UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY....and there are some of us who did NOT SEE/HEAR this take place....so I hope those of you who see this....it really has nothing to do with JY.....but it has a lot to do with what is "legal and lawful".....period...

  • dollibug Mar 6, 6:06 p.m.

    ++++I'm not Pro JY, I think he did it but its a sad day for the US justice system when someone can get convicted of such a serious crime on such flimsy evidence.
    Tcheuchter

    It is a sad thing for AMERICA period....

  • jackcdneh1017 Mar 6, 5:53 p.m.

    oh oh, juror misconduct...anyone surprised?

  • jhefner79 Mar 6, 5:52 p.m.

    I guess we all now know that if you are an unhappily married man you should protect your wife because if she is beaten to death when you are out of town on business you are responsible, even when another persons DNA is found in the house.

    I am not saying he didn't commit this crime but I am saying there is no evidence that proves he did it. So much for innocent until proven guilty!

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