Local News

Jason Young asks for public defender

Posted December 15, 2009 6:37 a.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2009 5:25 p.m. EST

— A District Court judge on Tuesday denied bond for a man facing a first-degree murder charge in the beating death of his wife more than three years ago.

Wake County sheriff's deputies arrested Jason Lynn Young, 35, Monday in Brevard, where he has been living since his wife's death. Michelle Young was found dead inside the couple's Wake County home on Nov. 3, 2006. Their then-2-year-old daughter, also inside, was unharmed.

Dressed in an orange and white jumpsuit, Young appeared calm during his first court appearance and spoke politely and with a soft voice before Judge Jane Gray.

Young told Gray that he could not afford his attorney, whom he retained three years ago following his wife's death. At his request, Gray tentatively appointed him a public defender, pending a review of an affidavit of his financial status.

Monday's arrest, immediately after a Wake County grand jury returned a true bill of indictment, was a shock to many who have waited for years for some resolution in the case.

"None of us could figure out why it was taking so long," said Cathy Buckey, a cheerleading coach at North Carolina State University, where Michelle Young attended college and was on her team.

Buckey said news of Jason Young's arrest flooded her with emotions.

"I was happy. I was sad. I cried," she said. "It was so bittersweet."

Carol Nelson, Michelle Young's manager at Progress Energy, where she worked as a financial specialist, said the news brought her relief and sadness.

"It's tragic, because Michelle's daughter has lost her mother and her father is in jail," she said.

Investigators haven't offered a motive for Michelle Young's death, but search warrants suggest the couple had a "volatile" marriage that included violent arguments and infidelity on his part.

"It's been a long time coming," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Monday of Young's arrest. "But cases like this, it takes time."

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said it was important for the state to have a strong case to take before the grand jury.

"Domestic homicides present unusual challenges in gathering information," he said. "It could have been easier if things had taken a different course, but the investigators were committed to the case."

Calles to Michelle Young's mother, Linda Fisher, have gone unanswered. Meredith Fisher, Michelle Young's sister, was at Tuesday's court appearance but also declined to comment.