Local News

Jason Young pleads not guilty in wife's slaying

Posted May 19, 2011 2:32 p.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2011 12:24 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh man charged in the beating death of his pregnant wife nearly five years ago pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge during his arraignment Thursday afternoon.

Jason Lynn Young, 37, was arrested in December 2009 on a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of Michelle Young, 29, who was five months' pregnant when she was beaten inside the couple's Wake County home on Nov. 3, 2006.

He has maintained that he was out of town on business when she died.

Jury selection is expected to begin May 31, and the trial is expected to last approximately one month. Prosecutors have indicated that they will not seek the death penalty.

Also on Thursday, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens delayed ruling on a defense motion to block the testimony of Gracie Dahms, a convenience store clerk in King, N.C., who says she sold Jason Young gasoline on the morning of the crime.

King is approximately 120 miles from Raleigh and 45 miles from Hillsville, Va., where Jason Young told investigators he was sleeping when, Dahms says, he came into her store between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. (View a map)

Wake County sheriff's investigators believe that Jason Young checked into a hotel on the night of Nov. 2, 2006, and then drove back to Raleigh and killed his wife.

Defense attorneys say they believe detectives violated procedures when questioning Dahms. Stephens said he would rule on the matter after hearing from her Friday morning.

Several investigators testified that they spoke with Dahms on multiple occasions and that each time, she was confident that the man she encountered was Jason Young.

Lt. Scott Ikerd said Dahms told him that Jason Young got "very agitated" and angry that the gasoline pump was turned off and that she had to activate it.

"She said (that) she was almost positive, and she remembered this only because of his attitude and because he was not a regular customer of the business," Ikerd said.

"(She said) that he was irate, that he cussed at her, threw a $20 bill at her," Sgt. Richard Spivey testified. "(He) stood out because of the way he acted when he came in the store."

Investigators haven't offered a motive for the killing, but in search warrants, they have described the couple's marriage as a "volatile" relationship that included violent arguments and infidelity on his part.

In 2009, a judge awarded Michelle Young's family $15.5 million in damages in a wrongful death suit against Jason Young after he failed to respond to the suit.

Michelle Young's sister, Meredith Fisher, has primary custody of the Youngs' daughter, Cassidy, who was 2 years old when she was found in the same room with her mother's body.