Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Just the Facts

Posted January 24, 2007 12:21 p.m. EST

A good friend of mine who is a retired police detective once told me that people generally "died the way they lived."  And for the most part I've found that this had held true over the years.  If you live in a world of drugs and violence there's a good chance you're going to meet your maker earlier rather than later.

But it's the crimes where this does not hold true that makes me, and I'm sure most of you, recoil in horror that someone could suffer without ever having done anything at all to contribute in any way to their fate.

Michelle Young is an example of such a person.   When I read her autopsy report Monday it was a set of medical facts that add up to one conclusion,  a pregnant woman suffered greatly at the hands of her killer.  She was beaten repeatedly throughout her body.   She was strangled.  Her skull was fractured, he jaw broken, her teeth knocked out.  What would have been a healthy male fetus also died in her womb when a final blow took away her life.  This all occurred with her two-year-old daughter in the home.  Its fourteen pages of  very  difficult reading.

There is only one thing about the report that tells me about how Michelle Young lived- she had defensive wounds on her hands, she fought back.  Everything that I have learned about her tells me  Michelle Young was a fighter in life, and in death.  She  would have done anything to protect her unborn child and her  toddler sleeping across the hall .

Journalists are supposed to report "just the facts."  But we are also human beings who must interpret those facts.  The facts of this case are gruesome and they point to one conclusion- no one deserves to die this way.

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WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.