Sister recalls finding Michelle Young's body
Jurors in the retrial of Jason Young started off Tuesday hearing the full 911 recording from the day Michelle Young's sister found his pregnant wife's body and the couple's little girl hiding in their bed.Posted — Updated
"I think my sister's dead," Meredith Fisher said in the Nov. 3, 2006, call as the voice of Cassidy Young is heard in the background.
Prosecutors say Michelle Young, 29, had been beaten at least 30 times in the head. She was facedown on the floor near her bed. She was wearing a white sweatshirt and black sweatpants.
Cassidy's doll had been placed by her head.
At first, Fisher said in the call, she thought it might have been some kind of practical joke.
"I just wasn't processing what I was seeing. It was kind of surreal," Fisher testified Tuesday. "I guess I was hoping against hope that it was a joke."
Jason Young, who is charged with first-degree murder, was out of town on business, Fisher testified, and he had left her a voicemail asking her to go by his house to pick up some papers he left on a printer about a belated anniversary gift for his wife.
When Fisher arrived at 5108 Birchleaf Drive that day, "the dog was freaking out," she said in the call. The porch and driveway lights were still on, the backyard gate was open and there was blood all over the upstairs.
"There's like bloody footprints all over the house, like her daughter's little footprints," Fisher said in the call.
While she was on the phone, she tried to quiet Cassidy, whom she found beneath the cover on her father's side of the bed.
The toddler was wearing only pink fleece pajamas – no diaper or underwear – was barefoot and surprisingly clean, considering the amount of blood in the upstairs of the house, Fisher said.
Fisher recalled the girl pulling her toward the bathroom to get a washcloth and bandages.
"She just kept on pulling on me," Fisher testified.
Fisher could also be heard on the call asking Cassidy if she knew what happened, if her mother had fallen and if anyone had been inside.
The state contends the crime wasn't random and that Jason Young, a salesman for a medical software company, traveled out of state on a business trip on the night of Nov. 2, 2006, and shortly before 11 p.m. checked into a Hampton Inn just across the state border in Hillsville, Va.
About an hour later, prosecutors suggested in their opening statement, Jason Young left the hotel through an emergency exit and propped the door open to avoid using an electric key card to get back into the hotel.
Keith Hicks, a third-shift clerk at the hotel, testified Thursday that he noticed the emergency door in the first-floor stairwell on the west end of the building was open.
"There was a small rock wedged between the door and the frame," he said. "I opened the door and kicked the rock out and shut the door."
A short time later, he realized the security camera in the same stairwell had been unplugged. After it had been powered up again, he noticed it had been turned toward the ceiling away from the exit.
"It was very unusual," Hicks said.
After killing his wife, the state claims, Jason Young drove through the night back to the hotel and then continued on to his sales meeting in Clintwood, Va., approximately three hours west near the Kentucky border.
Prosecutors have speculated that Jason Young's motive was that he no longer wanted to be married.
The couple's relationship had been troubled in the months prior to Michelle Young's death, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt said in opening statements Monday.
They were two different people with different desires in life. Michelle Young was a planner who wanted to settle permanently into family life. She was pregnant with her second child, Rylan, at the time of her death.
Jason Young, on the other hand, had felt that he was pressured into marriage when the couple found out in 2003 that they were pregnant with Cassidy. Unlike his wife, he was a free spirit stuck in the college way of life and was resistant to settling down, Holt said.
The couple argued frequently, Fisher testified, and Jason Young often gave his wife the "silent treatment" and "played the divorce card."
"He said it would be even more difficult being divorced from her than it would being married to her," she said.
Fisher said she would often serve as an intermediary to help them talk about common issues in their marriage – Jason Young being irresponsible, Michelle Young's mother, money and a lack of sex.
They had been to counseling, Fisher testified, but Jason Young didn't like the counselor. Michelle Young sought professional help on her own.
"She was depressed," Fisher said. "She was miserable."
Defense attorneys say there's no physical evidence linking their client to the crime and that, despite the state's evidence that showed Jason Young wasn't a good husband, he did not and could not have killed his wife in the time that the state contends.
"There is no question that he has acted like an obnoxious, juvenile jerk," attorney Mike Klinkosum told jurors in his opening remarks. "But what you have to remember, ladies and gentlemen, is that we don't convict people of murder because they acted like jerks."