Michelle Young

Opening statements expected in Jason Young murder trial

Posted June 7, 2011 5:39 a.m. EDT
Updated June 7, 2011 7:01 p.m. EDT

— Attorneys in the murder trial of a Raleigh man accused of brutally beating his wife to death are finishing up jury selection in the case and are scheduled to deliver opening statements Tuesday afternoon.

Michelle Young, 29 was found facedown in the master bedroom of her home at 5108 Birchleaf Drive in the Enchanted Oaks subdivision south of Raleigh on Nov. 3, 2006.

An autopsy report found that she died from blunt force trauma to the head, after being struck more than 10 times. It also indicated that the killer tried to strangle her.

Authorities charged Jason Young, 37, a former pharmaceutical sales representative, with first-degree murder more than three years later.

He has maintained that he was out of town on business in Virginia when his wife was killed and that he learned about her death at his parents' house in Brevard, N.C., approximately 275 miles from Raleigh.

Jury selection started last Tuesday, and as of Monday afternoon 12 jurors were seated in the case – seven women and five men. Attorneys were choosing alternate jurors Tuesday morning.

The trial is expected to be lengthy. Prosecutors have indicated they expect their case to last several weeks.

Michelle Young worked as a senior financial consultant for Progress Energy in Raleigh, and at the time of her death, was 20 weeks' pregnant with her second child, a boy to be named Rylan.

Wake County sheriff's investigators have described the crime as one of the most heinous homicides they've investigated.

The couple's 2-year-old daughter, Cassidy, was found by her aunt in the same bedroom. Tiny bloody footprints surrounded Michelle Young's body, and the young girl was captured in a 911 recording that captured the brutality of the crime.

"Mommy has a boo-boo," she said. "Mommy is hurt."

The 911 call set off a massive investigation. Detectives and crime scene analysts spent nearly two weeks at the home, investigated hundreds of leads and interviewed more than 100 witnesses in at least three states.

Investigators haven't commented on a motive, but search warrants indicate that Jason Young told friends that he was unhappy in his marriage.

Michelle Young was planning to cut back on her hours after maternity leave, and the documents indicate the couple was having financial trouble and that Jason Young was listed as the beneficiary of a "substantial" life insurance policy that covered his wife.

Other friends told investigators that the Youngs had a "volatile" relationship and that they frequently had violent arguments over infidelity on Jason Young's part.

Investigators also found Internet searches on one of Jason Young's computers for the terms "head trauma knockout" and "anatomy of a knockout," according to court documents.

They also found adult-strength cough medicine, as well as a pharmaceutical drug known to cause drowsiness in Cassidy Young's room. That led detectives to suspect that the killer might have drugged her to keep her from interfering in the crime.

Jason Young has maintained his innocence and although defense attorneys haven't commented on the case, it's likely they will try to discredit investigators' work in the case.

Medical examiners never tested to determine whether Michelle Young was sexually assaulted. Investigators had to return to the home multiple times over the course of their investigation, and family members found a tooth belonging to her while cleaning the house.

Last month, defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued for testimony from a North Carolina convenience store clerk thrown out of the trial, saying investigators didn't properly follow protocol when interviewing the witness.

That witness says she sold Jason Young gasoline on the morning of his wife's death and that she remembers him because he was rude, cussed at her and threw money at her.

Jason Young has said that he was sleeping in his Virginia hotel room at that time.